Jamie Nash wondered about Godard fitting Blake Snyder’s Save The Cat beatsheet and I know this particular Godard film fairly well. I love this movie, but mind you, it’s not “pure Godard”, Truffaut (a top 5 fav filmmaker for me) co-wrote it Curious if/how it will fit A BOUT DE SOUFFLE, or BREATHLESS **OPENING IMAGE …
" /> Jason Holborn | Cybercarnet/Weblog - PATTERNS: A Bout de Souffle, or, Breathless

PATTERNS: A Bout de Souffle, or, Breathless

Jamie Nash wondered about Godard fitting Blake Snyder’s Save The Cat beatsheet and I know this particular Godard film fairly well.

I love this movie, but mind you, it’s not “pure Godard”, Truffaut (a top 5 fav filmmaker for me) co-wrote it
Curious if/how it will fit

A BOUT DE SOUFFLE, or BREATHLESS
**OPENING IMAGE
A NEWSPAPER spread open (held up, being read), Michel (off-screen) says: “After all, I’m an asshole”.
(Newspaper reports of Michel’s errant ways are a major element to the movie)
The paper lowers to reveal MICHEL (Jean-Paul Belmondo), smoking, being tough. He slowly traces his thumb over his lips, semi-obscene, a gesture he’ll repeat often.

**THEME STATED
One could make a case for “After all, I’m an asshole”. ie. “Ultimately, he’s a cynical bastard”… he’s not the person Patricia needs to be in love with.

Michel and a Girl silently conspire to help Michel hot-wire and steal a car

Michel drives through the countryside, talking to himself (to camera). He loves France. He’s speedy and reckless, impatient. Finds a random GUN in the glovebox. MOTORBIKE COPS chase him after he races through a construction site.

**CATALYST
On an offroad, Michel attempts to re-hot-wire the car. A cop finds him. MICHEL SHOOTS HIM, and runs away through the fields.

Michel tries to track down Patricia. Breaks into her place to shower, search for money (he finds none).

Michel hangs with another Girl (possibly the 1st Girl???), and steals cash from her.

Michel attempts to meet Mr. Tolmachoff at a Travel Agency, who is out of the office.

**DEBATE
Michel finally tracks down PATRICIA (Jean Seberg) on the Champs-Elysée, where she’s vending the New York Herald Tribune.
Can Michel and Patricia get together? They love each other (or is it not ‘love’?) but she doesn’t know that he’s a criminal (let alone a copkiller) and he doesn’t know one damn thing about what she wants out of life (cultured activity, engagement in humanities).
*NOTE: I’d say the Debate remains an open question till the End, but it does commence here
*NOTE: He wants Patricia to move to Rome with him; she really wants to stay in Paris.

They make a date for later; as Michel walks away, he watches an accident victim DIE in the street. Michel struts right in to watch, signs a cross without any passion or meaning, and struts off. WHIFF OF DEATH… life is ephemeral, and Michel totally accepts and embraces that. Michel notes in a NEWSPAPER that the police have identified the murderer of the shot police officer…

Michel finds Mr. Tolmachoff at the Travel Agency, with his cheque from Antonio — but the cheque’s mis-signed. Michel’s annoyed. Exactly as he exits, 2 COPS enter looking for him. They ascertain his recent presence and chase him, but he loses them — without even realizing they were ever so close to him.

END OF ACT ONE (there’s even an Iris Out). Michel’s up a tree – stuck in Paris looking for money owed him, trying to seduce the only girl he’s ever truly CLICKED with in bed, with cops hunting him.

**BREAK INTO TWO
Michel takes Patricia out; he attacks a man and steals his wallet and car keys.

**B-STORY
You could make an argument that she was already in the story. Still, Michel loves the ladies, and Patricia was just one he hung out with and romanced in Act 1. Now she is clarified as a primary character at his side, meaning more to Michel than other sexy girls. She certainly becomes the B-Story to the A-Story of “Smalltime Hood Kills Cop In Panic”.

**FUN AND GAMES
Promise of the Premise: “Smalltime Hood Evades Capture After Killing Cop” collides with “Love Between MisMatched Male/Female Lovers In Paris” – check.
I think one of the notable things of this movie is that it’s very often Fun and Games throughout all 3 acts; low-stakes chatter and flirting and hanging out. I’m NOT convinced this section is “more Fun and Games” than other sections, but FWIW:
– Michel hints at the truth (he wants honesty but can only approach it): he read about a con who stole millions to impress one Girl that he loved
– Patricia expresses confusion over his multiple cars. Is she naive or willfully blind…?
– Not important, but to me always one of the really memorable parts: a SOLDIER (a SOLDIER!) asks Michel for a light; Michel feigns searching his pockets, and then arrogantly berates the guy (a soldier!) to go buy matches
– Michel implores Patricia: don’t go see “this guy”. He shouts insults at her when she continues, and drives away (ie. he really cares for her!!! He loses his sang-froid when she disobeys)
– But it’s hardly romantic: Patricia merely meets an anglophone intellectual journalist she admires and wants to be more like; she is hunting for opportunity (and willing to socialize and flirt for it)
– However, Michel has hung around…. and catches Patricia and Anglophone depart, and KISS. Steamed, Michel drives off
– When Patricia returns, the desk has “lost her key” (Michel has broken into her place again).
– Michel has slept over in her apartment
– Now they enter into probably the longest “coasting on already achieved stakes & tension” stretch, hanging at Patricia’s apartment and conversing. HIGHLIGHTS:
* Michel teaches Patricia how to make faces
* Patricia reveals she is pregnant, and she assumes it is Michel’s. He is gruff, mean in response, but doesn’t leave and seemingly accepts this news
* They kiss, and, off-screen….

**MIDPOINT
… have sex. A/B stories have already crossed, but now at a deeper level – “hood on the lam for murder” and “American girl and French boy are in love” are intertwined.
She wants to talk culture, ie. Wm Faulkner.
Michel’s not interested, but the final line of one of Faulkner’s novels offers Michel conversation material. “Between grief and nothing, I choose grief.” Michel would choose NOTHING, because grief is a compromise.
And HERE, I think, is the real THEME STATED

Aerial shots of Paris finish off the Midpoint.

**BAD GUYS CLOSE IN
Michel steals a new car to drive Patricia.
His photo is now in the paper, and despite his hat and dark glasses, a BYSTANDER (whom I believe is Jean-Luc Godard) recognizes him. As Michel ferries Patricia off, this man approaches the police to tell them who he’s spotted.
BAD GUY – Michel’s face is more and more known (Man has a NEWSPAPER)

Michel drops Patricia at a Press Conference where she is out-questioned by more serious journalists, though she does catch the eye of the amorous Author Subject. What is his greatest ambition? His greatest ambition is to become immortal, and then die. (Probably, Michel is ‘immortal’ to Patricia’s POV by the end, and then dies) (Also, he’s ‘immortal’ in the sense of probably having a child in Patricia’s womb)
BAD GUY – isn’t Patricia out of her league her among this crowd??? She’s better off with Michel
(NOTE: Hardly a worse Bad Guy than the lunch with the anglophone journalist pre-Midpoint)

Michel tries to sell the car; the Fence recognizes “Laszlo Kovacs” as the copkiller Michel Poiccard. Michel roughs him up and steals his money.
BAD GUY – Even bad guys are out for Michel

Michel gets a cab to take Patricia to work; he is incredibly rude in critiquing and berating and abusing the cab driver. He misses Antonio again, confound his luck! He hides his face as much as he can in public.
BAD GUY – his notoriety, can’t meet Antonio

At the Herald-Tribune, Patricia is asked by the COPS about Michel. She feigns not knowing him, but is caught out and confesses they’ve met but that she knows nothing about him (true).
The Cop threatens Patricia: If she doesn’t want passport trouble, she’ll call him re: Michel when she spots him next.
BAD GUY – Patricia’s status (her life) in France threatened

As she exits, the Cops notice Michel’s scooter.
But… Patricia catches Michel’s eye and warns him off.
They travel, not associating, through a crowd, then get interrupted by President Eisenhower’s motorcade.
BAD GUY – Police in pursuit

**ALL IS LOST
Patricia is chased by Police into a dark cinema. BUT THEY EASILY FOLLOW HER RIGHT TO HER SEAT.

She escapes through a bathroom window.

**DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL
Michel and Patricia find refuge in another cinema, and kiss in the dark.
Honestly, I feel I’m stretching to label these All Is Lost and Dark Night. I’m not sure they come here.

Michel and Patricia meet a friend of Antonio’s, who is photographing MEN kissing his accomplice, a YOUNG GIRL, for blackmail and extortion.
I find it totally human and acceptable that Patricia is in true love with this total jerk, Michel – life’s like that. Probably this scene, of blackmail and extortion, can be interpreted as a Moral Test. She loves Michel despite his troubles with the police; her acceptance of Michel is personal. Her acceptance of this crowd, extortionists and blackmailers, takes her further of the path of moral goodness. Perhaps this is an ALL IS LOST for her soul.

Patricia suggests a hiding spot in Montmartre for Michel, at a friend’s huge apartment.

**BREAK INTO 3
Patricia and Michel arrive during a photo shoot (min 79). She tells him she saw the journalist again only to make sure she didn’t love him. Michel retorts that she complicates life too much. (In fact, she’s testing her love for Michel now)
When the shoot clears out, they are alone.

Later, Patricia awakens – Michel wants a paper and milk and sends Patricia out.

On her errands, Patricia calls police inspector Vitali, and informs him of Michel Poiccard’s current whereabouts.

Back at the apartment, Michel has news: Antonio’s coming! They can go to Rome now!!

Patricia can’t go to Rome. Also, she called the police on Michel.
Is she crazy?
Michel realizes the hard truth of Love in seeing their mistake: “I only talked about myself, and you, you. Instead I should have talked about you, and you about me.”
Patricia wants to be independent: she’s proved to herself now that she does NOT love Michel, by being mean to him.
He makes her repeat it again, then notes “there’s no such thing as happy love”. He, Michel, is independent. People think they are, they’re not. He is. But he has his appointment downstairs.

**FINALE
Michel meets Antonio, who has his money. He offers Michel his PISTOL upon hearing of the girl’s call to the police, but Michel refuses it.

The police arrive – Antonio peels off, and tosses the gun into the street for Michel.

The police shoot Michel. Wounded, Michel jogs through the street and finally collapses.

The police and Patricia gather around Michel.

He makes the FACES at Patricia. Then he mutters “It’s really disgusting” and closes his own eyes to die.
Patricia asks what Michel said:
“He said you’re really disgusting,” misquotes a Cop.

**FINAL IMAGE
Shocked, Patricia looks into the camera, then slowly traces her thumb over her lips, in the same manner as Michel.

Is she now the cynical “screw it, just do what I want” person that Michel was? It’s fun to interpret this movie, because in many regards it’s wide open for it.

CONCLUSION: You can make a case for a BS2, but I don’t think it fits *that* neatly.
– Fun and Games enter the movie in the first 5 minutes, and are always in the background, waiting to come out and play in all acts and all sequences
– Don’t see a late-Act-2 All Seems Lost or Dark Night
– As in many other movies, the Act 2 B-Story is already in the movie
– Theme Stated isn’t really (you can make a case, but there’s more than one Theme here)
DEBATE. It commences at Blake Snyder’s given entry point, but does not conclude till the end. I believe it’s “Can Michel and Patricia get together?”. It’s resolved before the Midpoint that they ARE two crazy mixed up kids IN LOVE… but can they get together? They each wrestle and grapple with it until the end. They WANT to be together, but they just can’t be (mostly for PERSONAL reasons, not EXTERIOR WORLD reasons). They cannot get together: End of Debate.
It generally follows the BS2, but it colors outside the lines.