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Critics' Reviews

AMG Review
Bruce Eder
It's amazing to think that Jean-Luc Godard's Made In USA (1966) took almost 43 years get a commercial release in the United States. The movie, done by Godard as a favor to producer Georges de Beauregard, ended up in legal limbo in the US owing to its literary origins -- it was based on a book by Donald Westlake, who ended up reacquiring the US rights to the film when de Beuregard's financial troubles prevented him from fulfilling his monetary obligations to the author. In 2008, Rialto Pictures licensed the rights directly from Westlake (who died suddenly two days after the picture's January 2009 opening) and struck new prints for a proper US run of the movie. As to the picture itself . . . it's a lean, fast-moving, and very witty, as well as extremely topical political satire, done up as an American-style gangster thriller (or satire of such a thriller), all with a serious underlying purpose. Anna Karina, the by-then-ex-Mrs. Godard, moves through the picture's "Atlantic City" setting in a succession of striking mod outfits, trying to find her missing boyfriend Richard P (his last name is forever obliterated by on-screen source sounds), crossing paths with diminutive conspirators, police detectives who may not be who they say they are (or, if they are, may not be operating legally); and Marianne Faithfull (uncredited) singing an all-acoustic "As Tears Go By." Forget the logic (or lack therein) of the events and some of what one sees, and simply absorb the pacing and the overlay of the conspiratorial web, all intended as a serious comment about the still-unsolved disappearance of Moroccan leftist Mehdi Ben Barka, rumored to be a result of a rightist Cold War conspiracy involving the government. The resulting film is disjointed, cuttingly funny and digressive, as well as illogical and downright silly in places -- and keeps calling attention to itself through the use of well-known names (Nixon, MacNamara, David Goodis . . .) for a multitude of characters, both on-screen and spoken of. The politics and discourse about the latter woven through the picture, as well as the presence of Faithfull doing a Mick Jagger/Keith Richards song, seems to set the stage for Godard's later One Plus One: Sympathy For The Devil, with its more direct participation of the Rolling Stones. Taken on its own terms, this picture is sometimes maddening, when it isn't being thoroughly entertaining in its own uniquely disjointed way (and a feast for the eye in its treatment of Karina's extraordinary allure). ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi
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