Nana (Anna Karina) is a Parisian salesgirl who drifts into prostitution. The story is told in the form of a documentary, separated into 12 tableaux. Godard has said that the division into tableaux was to emphasize the theatrical nature of the film, and also because when you look at something for too long you end up knowing less about it. Breaking it up into bite-size chunks can be helpful. What we see is a romantic portrait of womanhood caught between her own role (she wants to be an actress) and that which she is allowed or compelled to do. This is brought home most poignantly when Nana goes to a showing of Carl Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc and her tear-streaked face is intercut with that of Maria Falconetti playing Joan, about to be led to the stake. Add to that the further layer that we have a Danish actress (Karina) in a French film, watching a French actress (Falconetti) in a Danish film, and the implications play out grimly. This is one of Godard's finest films, both austere and compellingly watchable. --Jim Gay
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