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Film / Vivre sa vie

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Vivre sa vie: film en douze tableaux (translated title My Life to Live: A Film in Twelve Scenes) is a 1962 film by Jean-Luc Godard.

Anna Karina plays Nana, a young Parisian woman who leaves her unhappy marriage to pursue her dreams of being an actress, but turns to prostitution to support herself. She meets several clients as well as philosophers and in the end she is murdered by her pimp during his shootout with the other gangsters.


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Tropes:

  • Amicably Divorced: Nana and her husband Paul seem to get along together quite well even after she abandons him; in one scene he brings her pictures of the baby.
  • Aside Glance: Nana glances at the camera a couple of times, a bit sheepishly, as the philosopher natters on about how to live life without hurting people.
  • Author Filibuster: The film includes a report on the state of prostition in early '60s France. Godard quotes many figures.
  • B-Movie: This film really isn't one, but the opening titles say it's "Dedicated to B-Movies".
  • The Cameo: Nana dances to Jean Ferrat's "Ma mome" on a jukebox. The man who plays the record? Musician Jean Ferrat.
  • Centipede's Dilemma: The philosopher shares an anecdote from a Three Musketeers novel about how Porthos sets a bomb, and starts to run away, until he thinks about how to put one foot in front of another. He finds out he cannot move, and gets killed.
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  • Continuity Nod: When they first meet in scene 6, Raoul says he saw Nana on the street three months ago. When Nana and Paul are talking in scene 3, the actor later identified as Raoul can be seen looking at her as he passes by.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Nana crosses it when she is evicted from her rented room so she has nowhere to live. She turns to prostitution as a result.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Only if you know French, where prostitution is called "la vie" or "the life".
  • Downer Ending: Nana is killed at the end of the film, caught in the crossfire between rival gangsters.
  • Fan Disservice: A Time Passes Montage that goes along with the Author Filibuster has Nana seen in various states of undress, in the course of her depressing life as a prostitute.
  • Fanservice Extra: Nana goes looking around her hotel for the third part of a threesome. As she opens doors she finds a busty topless lady with a client, and two other clients naked from behind.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Even hookers, according to Nana's pimp, who says that prostitutes practice contraception but abortions after pregnancy are "rare".
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Played with, as Nana is not especially kind-hearted.
  • Humiliation Conga: Nana leaves an unhappy marriage. She's stuck in a dead-end job. Apparently she manages to lose that, as she resorts to prostitution. She's accused of stealing a thousand-franc note. One client makes her watch as he has sex with another prostitute.
  • Jump Cut: A Godard trademark; here there are several jump cuts in the scene near the end where Nana tenderly embraces her new pimp.
  • Meaningful Name: "Nana" was the name of the courtesan title character of Emile Zola's smash-hit 19th century French novel, Nana.
  • No-Tell Motel:
    • Nana's first trick has her going to a threadbare motel where the guy manning the desk doesn't even bother to ask names.
    • When Nana goes looking for a threesome partner later in the film, the hotel she's at doesn't seem to have anything but prostitutes.
  • Revealing Hug: Nana's attitude towards prostitution is revealed by the bored, empty stare she gives out as a john nuzzles her neck. She then takes a drag on a cigarette.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Silence Is Golden: For no obvious reason, the scene near the end between Nana and her new boyfriend is played as a silent film, with titled imposed on-screen in the same way that they are when Nana goes to watch The Passion of Joan of Arc.
  • Single Mom Stripper: Nana's friend Yvette says she drifted into prostitution after her husband abandoned her and their two children.
  • Streetwalker: What Nana becomes when her half-hearted attempt to get into movies doesn't pan out.
  • Time Passes Montage: The long Author Filibuster sequence in which Nana's pimp explains to her and the audience how the world of prostitution works, is accompanied by a montage in which Nana serves a series of clients.


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