Masculin Feminin: A Unique Portrait of French Youth in the 1960s


French youth in the 1960s was characterized by many things; death, love, food, contradiction, revolution, and lust to name a few. Godard, the great cinematic auteur of the French New Wave, tackled these themes in his style of filmmaking to create an authentic work of art. In 15 vignettes, we follow Paul, a young intellectual, struggling with society as well as his chase for Madeleine, the sweet and cunningly beautiful French pop star, played by Chantal Goya. To capture the feel of the younger Frenchman during the Vietnam War, we follow these two along with their friends and hear interviews from random youths throughout the film.

Godard paints a beautiful portrait of French youth with this film. The performances are vibrant, bringing this film so much color despite being filmed in black and white. Godard was able to do this due to his style of filmmaking, almost making a documentary on France at the time rather than a work of fiction. Using unconventional techniques in dialogue, camera movements, and storytelling, Godard shows his genius to execute his vision perfectly. Goya gives a wonderful first performance with the help of Godard, weaving her real-life personality with the character Madeleine. With the title, translated from French to English as “male-female” this film also tells the story of both sexes at this time in an authentic way. The sophisticated work of Masculin Feminin can’t be recommended enough as it will leave you wanting to fool around with your friends in a café and follow these two complicated characters for the rest of their lives.

Yes, it’s black and white. Yes, it’s from the 1960s. Yes, it’s foreign, but give it a shot…it’s cool! Go get a cup of coffee, grab a friend, sit down, and follow these relatable characters.