Masculine Feminine: Selected Film Criticism Excerpts
Georges Sadoul, Les Lettres Francaises, May 5, 1965
When Pierre Daix wrote on this page that "even though there may be howls of protest," Masculine Feminine was "as fine as Le neveu de Rameau [Diderot's novel, Rameau's Nephew]," he placed it in its proper literary category. It is not theater, it is not a novel (like La Religieuse [Memoirs of a Nun]); like Diderot's work, it is much less a "satirical tale" than an essay on the daily problems and manners of our time.
Pierre Billard, L'Express, April 18, 1968
... quite frankly, Masculine Feminine is not the total film we dreamed of. In fact it is hardly a film, in the ordinary sense of the word. It is rather the personal notebook of a filmmaker, the raw data of a public opinion survey, the first draft of a work that still must be thought out, nourished, and put together.
Jean de Baroncelli, Le Monde, April 23, 1966
These children of their time are thus put before us. Boys on one side, girls on the other. The boys, always lagging a bit behind the girls their age, awkward, passionate, not managing to make their way out of adolescence, desperately romantic despite their braggadocio, their obscenities, their "killing" jokes, their adult preoccupations. The girls much surer of themselves, having both feet in real life already, more clear-headed, and cruelly indifferent when they are not in love...
Louis Chauvet, Le Figaro, April 26, 1968
I have heard Jean-Luc Godard's most stubborn partisans murmur that "this time" he hasn't done as good work as he usually does. I have feeling that I am going to be obliged to defend Godard if people begin to be unfair to him. No! Masculine Feminine is not a less good film than the others. It is merely equally despicable.
Philippe Haudiquet, Image et Son, No. 195
Masculine Feminine comes along to prove once again that Jean-Luc Godard does not manage to express himself simply, that he wanders off, on his own whim, on useless and pedantic digressions, and that he is content to film very rough canvases (he has confessed several times that he worked little, and works less and less on his scenarios). And this is too bad, for Godard chose three admirable interpreters, Jean-Pierre Leaud, Chantal Goya, and Marlene Joubert, who from time to time begin to exist on-screen in an intense moving way.
Andre Arnaud, Cahiers du Cinema, No. 195, July 1966
"I picked a nice sunny afternoon to go see Jean-Luc Godard's Latest film, Masculine Feminine. It's nothing to write home about.
"All the same, it's a rather curious sight to see a thirty-five-year-old filmmaker age before your very eyes. Jean-Luc Godard has taken it upon himself to look at young people with the gaze of a diplodocus leafing through Salut les copains.
"This is to say that perseverance was required as he searched for his characters ... and bad faith as he wrote the text that he had his actors read.
"You can't summarize the plot of Masculine Feminine. It's a rough draft, like almost everything Godard does. A certain sly stubbornness is nonetheless exhibited in this rough draft of a film as it insistently presents a few ridiculous and rather pretentious puppets as representative young people of today. This is the thread through the labyrinth of Masculine Feminine. Doubtless Godard is not happy to be going out of fashion so fast, and therefore has fallen into a sort of cantankerousness when dealing with anything regarding the young."