Listing these vital statistics for Jean-Luc Godard’s Band of Outsiders (Bande à part), I understand why anyone would conclude that movie would be excruciatingly unwatchable. Just look what it has going against it.
- It is French – even worse, French New Wave
- It is in Black & White
- The director is a doctrinaire Maoist who holds in utter contempt all things American
- There is voiceover, improvisation, guerilla filmmaking, and oh so much irony
Any yet, Band of Outsiders turns out to be charming, loveable, exhilarating, and utterly entertaining.
There is a plot somewhere in there – two wanna-be toughs and the girl with whom they are half-heartedly competing for her affections, simply for a lack of anything better to do, listlessly decide to commit a robbery – but it is for those set pieces and little moments which still make me break out into a goofy grin that makes Godard’s movie so memorable. There is that ‘Madison’ dance sequence, a minute of silence which lasts 43 seconds, the fastest visit to the Louvre ever, two shootouts – one mimed, one real, English lessons and the director’s lying promise of a wide-screen Technicolor© sequel.
Bottom line: full of win.
–Review by Mark Stackpole.