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Made in USA

Set in an alternate-universe fictional location of Atlantic-Cité, MADE IN USA is a typically oblique Godardian blend of political intrigue and self-referential humour in the guise of a nominal thriller plot. Paula Nelson (Anna Karina) is a journalist who has been covering the war in Morocco who has just returned to Atlantic-Cité. She has received a telegram from her one-time fiancé Richard, but when she arrives there she finds that he has been killed. Following various leads, while under surveillance herself by the police and other mysterious figures, she attempts to find out who killed Richard.

“It's like being in a Disney film starring Humphrey Bogart. A film with a political message”, Anna Karina remarks at one point in the film, and indeed, with its mysterious figures in cars, North African connection, murky police activities and other-worldly absurdity, MADE IN USA is like a Technicolor version of LE PETIT SOLDAT set in an ALPHAVILLE universe. But the self-referentiality of Karina's comment also alerts us to the meta-fiction construct of the film that looks ahead to Godard's breaking down of the artificial construct of the movie that would come to its definitive destruction in WEEKEND, the director thereafter seeking new ways of presenting his ideas on film. Not only do the characters often refer to themselves as characters in a film, in one scene they attempt to make an inventory of every object in a barroom, deconstructing the film down into mere words on a page. Godard continually alerts us to the fact that words are a fictional construct that both his film and political ideologies are built upon – characters type poems, read books, quote from books, indulge in wordy political discourse and sloganeering (again prefiguring the bold intertitles and political messages of LA CHINOISE and WEEKEND) – but just because they make coherent sentences, doesn't mean they have validity. However “fiction triumphs over reality”, Godard's film tells us (is there really any need for film criticism when the film is as self-reflective and self-analytical as this?) and the film meanders through its obscure plot to a notional ending. What is the purpose of all this, you might ask? And well you might…

Noel Megahey DVD Times