No doubt about it, Jean-Luc Godard is still the ‘enfant terrible’ of French films. For his third pic [shot in 1967,] he looks at the collective hysteria of weekend drivers. But he also laces it with his personalized symbols of the consumer world, the class battle, guerilla warfare, growing human violence, pettiness and meanness. It all adds up to a grating, disturbing, funny, witty, and controversial film package that just tackes too much but has enough plus aspects and sheer talent to make for the usual pros and cons.
The sharp and fluid color camera of Raoul Coutard is a help, together with the adroit editing. Godard also uses an established star, comely and lissome Mireille Darc, but shapes her in his own image and does away with her usual roles of the free-loving young woman.
First, she is seen confessing to a psychoanalyst, who might also be her lover, at home. The husband is calling a mistress and also sees some motorists outside fighting, after rubbing fenders. This sets the scene for a trip the couple take to see his dying father. On the road, there is a tremendous traffic jam that turns into what looks like the end of the world. But after this promising first part, pic turns into a series of adventures. They meet figures from the French Revolution and then they are captured by a gang of revolutionary hippie-beatniks.
Besides Darc, who is raped, attacked, beaten and smeared with mud throughout, Jean Yanne is right as her flippant, mean husband.