26 March 2018



Mark Kermode.

'Good-looking, fun to watch, and develops a certain morbid humour.'
Roger Ebert.

'A wanton, playful film.'
Time Out.

'Whaddya keep asking me these questions about the future for? Which I don't know, you don't know, so fuck it, roll the dice.'
Jesse Lujack.

'Show me your toes. A woman's toes are important.'
Jesse Lujack.

Monica: 'Jesse, tell me you love me.'
Jesse, tinkering with his car's engine: 'Yeah, sure I do, sugar.'


I really wanted to like BREATHLESS, because film critic extraordinaire Mark Kermode loves it and I love Mark Kermode. What he says goes, right? Well, usually. I have a lot of problems with BREATHLESS that he and film-maker Quentin Tarantino, the film's other celebrity advocate, don't seem to have.

I'm guessing that it's because they're men and they're just all, like, Marvel comic books and superheroes, yay! The Silver Surfer, yay! Rockabilly music and Jerry Lee Lewis, yay! Car chases and great old classic cars, yay! Sex, yay!' A typical guy reaction, if I may say so. 

I must therefore now revert to Strict School-Marm mode and state firmly, whilst looking primly at you all over the tops of my pince-nez, that these things aren't everyone's cup of tea. They are most certainly not mine, except for possibly the sex. I need other things besides these to make my viewing experience pleasurable. Let's take a look at the plot, anyway.

BREATHLESS is a re-make of the 1960 French New Wave film A BOUT DE SOUFFLE, directed by Jean-Luc Godard and co-written by himself and Francois Truffaut. Mark Kermode says he doesn't like it when people dismiss an American remake of a fancy-pants European movie like this one 'out of hand.' Well, I'm not dismissing BREATHLESS out of hand, as I've viewed it carefully and I found it to be an entertaining enough watch, but I do have some problems with it.

Mark Kermode at least agrees with me that the character of Jesse Lujack is a preening, narcissistic twat (twat was my choice of word, lol) who all the time acts as if he's the star of his own movie. He praises Richard Gere's almost ludicrously over-the-top performance as 'genius.' Well, I suppose it could be classed as a good performance but only if Richard Gere knows that his character is a giant twat, if you see what I'm getting it. If he doesn't, then God help us all.

Jesse Lujack is an over-confident, highly irresponsible petty thief and drifter, always hell-bent on being the rolling stone that gathers no moss. He seems to make a living from stealing cars. He doesn't have a job, he doesn't go to school, he doesn't even have a home or family as far as the viewer knows. All he has is his greaser good looks, but he's thirty-something, for crying out loud, and good looks don't last forever.

Yeah yeah, he loves rock 'n' roll, and Jerry Lee Lewis and all that kind of thing. He identifies heavily with Marvel's comic character The Silver Surfer (I thought that that was an elderly person who was learning to use the Internet?) and sports a badly-drawn broken-heart tattoo on his muscular left bosom.

Don't worry, you'll get plenty of chances of see this remarkable example of the tattoist's artistry. He's practically shirtless for the whole film, with a highly individualistic pair of tartan trousers clothing his lower half. He's even in the nip in a couple of scenes and you can see his willy, if you have a magnifying-glass to hand, that is. I guess now we know why he always goes for those really long cars, huh?

Jesse struts and preens like the peacock he is throughout the entire film, posturing and primping like a fop of old whenever he's within smirking range of a mirror. The only thing he doesn't do, as far as I can remember, is to comb his hair in that flashy, showy way that Elvis did, standing with legs apart and throwing his whole leather-jacketed upper body into creating that greasy coxcomb. Poseur, I believe is the word. But Elvis could pull it off. Jesse Lujack ain't no Elvis.

When we meet Jesse, he's just stolen a Porsche that someone else probably worked very hard to acquire honestly for themselves. He ends up fatally shooting a cop during a car-chase that goes wrong (I'll say it goes wrong, tsk tsk) and then high-tails it to Los Angeles to drag his troubles to the door of Monica, a beautiful French girl with whom he had le fling in Las Vegas.

Jesse fancies that he's madly in love with Monica. I'm guessing, however, that the shallow prick is merely in love with the idea of being in love. He does the girl few favours by breaking into her little apartment and waiting naked in her bed for her to come home from college, but only after sabotaging her attempts to give a presentation to her professors during an exam.

People say that you should measure love by how much your life improves by having the other person in it. Here's how Jesse 'improves' Monica's life, and why he is a big selfish jerk whom she should have nothing to do with.

He breaks her shower while they are having sex up agin' it. He might think that le f**king in the shower is spontaneous and wild and sexy. We'll see how spontaneous and wild and sexy Monica feels after waiting in three consecutive days for the plumber and he still hasn't shown up, then when he does come he says he needs a part which will take about six months to get here because it's coming all the way from, like, Jupiter. Oh, and by the way, that'll be, like, five thousand dollars, please.

Jesse also throws Monica's telephone answering-machine (look at the size of it, it's the size of a flippin' 'Nineties cellphone!) into her swimming-pool when he hears a message on it that he doesn't like. What's next out the window, I wonder? 

The cooker when Monica fails to make the spaghetti just like his Momma used to make? The washer-dryer when his tartan trews are washed with her red knickers by mistake? The lavvy when... Okay, enough of that train of thought, lol. It's only productive up to a point.

Here are some other ways in which Jesse 'improves' Monica's life. He drags her away from her life, her lovely little apartment and her architecture degree to go on the run from the cops with him. He adds running over a police officer in his car to his list of misdemeanours, then tells Monica, who's now only got the little pink dress she stands up in to her name, that they can live on love. Love, if you please. Humph.

In Mexico, no less. They can live on love when they get to Mexico. Yeah, they're going to Mexico, which I imagine is already chock-a-block with all the other couples from the fillums on the run from the law who think that their lives will be suddenly perfect once they get over that all-important border.

Oh, and they're possibly having le baby together because guess what, Jesse obviously didn't use any protection, so that will have to live in the stolen car as well (all Jesse's cars are stolen) and probably be brought up in it too, as Jesse's not showing any signs of becoming domesticated
just yet.

And (giant spoiler alert coming up here, look away NOW if you don't want to read it!) Jesse may find that going out in that grand and glorious Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid style is dramatic and romantic enough for the great Jesse Lujack, but who else do you think is gonna go down right alongside him...? Monica can do better, seriously.

Mark Kermode says that BREATHLESS is 'the prototype Quentin Tarantino movie before Quentin Tarantino made any Quentin Tarantino movies.' We've already discussed what attracts men to this film. The cars, the music, the comic books and, to a lesser extent, the bosomy charms of French leading lady Valerie Kaprisky. It's kind of a no-brainer why blokes dig this film. When a great female director says that she loves BREATHLESS, then I'll sit up and take notice.

In the meantime, I'll peer censoriously at all of you once more over the tops of my Strict School-Marm pince-nez and say: 'Mister Kermode, see me after class...'

BREATHLESS is out today (26th March 2018) on Blu-Ray from SECOND SIGHT FILMS. Extras include interviews with Mark Kermode (luff yew...!) and Breathless leading lady, Valerie Kaprisky.


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


You can contact Sandra at:


No comments:

Post a comment