Goodbye to Language (2014): Godard’s Award-Winning Masterpiece


Essay written in 2014:









At 83, with over forty films to his credit during six decades of unusual creativity, Jean-Luc Godard continues to impress and to surprise with his innovative approach to cinema.

The 43rd feature of the French New Wave leader, Goodbye to Language (“Adieu au Langage”), world premiered at the Cannes Film Fest (in competition) in May, where it won the Special Jury Prize.

The film will have its North American premiere at the Toronto Film Fest in September, followed by the New York Film Fest, and then be released by Kino Lorber in 3D on Wednesday, October 29, with a national release to follow.



It was the only film to get strong applause mid-screening at Cannes this year, which is remarkable considering what its subject matter is.  It is not paradoxical to suggest that Goodbye to Language alights on doubt and despair with the greatest freedom and joy.

goodbye_to_language_11_godardThe narrative’s central premise is simple (or is it?).  A stray dog, Roxy, wanders from town to country, and over the course of several seasons, he observes a married woman and a single man as they meet, make love, argue, and fight.

Godard works as a truly independent filmmaker, unencumbered by all concerns (commercial and otherwise) beyond the immediate needs of his current project. He aims to create a singular artwork that reflects and embodies his own state of being at its precise time of creation, vis-a-vis the prevailing history, politics, technical aspects (light, color, and sound), and, at once revisiting and reinvening the language of cinema itself.

goodbye_to_language_4_godardThe artist’s beloved dog Roxy is the “star” of a film that, like most of Godard’s previous features, is as impossible to summarize in terms of conventioal plot or characters.


Goodby to Language featurs the apperances of Héloïse Godet, Kamel Abdelli, Richard Chevallier, Zoé Bruneau, Christian Gregori, and Jessica Erickson.


In many way, the film is faithful to its title, bidding farewell to words and the arbitrariness of languge.  But at the same time, the movie also represents a warm welcome of the legendary director into the world of 3D, a medium in which it must be seen and experienced in order to fully appreciate Godard’s singular and wondrous use of technology.

goodbye_to_language_5_godardThough it’s only 70 minutes long, the film is richly dense in text and subtext, multi-layered in meanings, offering a uniquely thrilling cinematic experience that cannot be compared to any film I saw in Cannes Fest this (or any other) year!




goodbye_to_language_8_godardI cannot wait to see the picture again in Toronto or New York Film Fest, because like all genuine works of art—and it is a masterpiece—Goodbye to Language should offer different kinds of pleasures (visual, technical, emotional, cerebral) with each repeated viewing.