Vivre sa vie
(My Life to Live), (Her Life to Live)
Anna Karina, Sady Rebbot, Brice Parain, André S. Labarthe,
Vivre sa vie tells of Nana (Anna Karina), a naive shopgirl, at the brief, flickering moment when she takes responsibility for her life. Because she is unwilling to sell herself (“Lend yourself to others and give yourself to yourself” is the film’s epigraph, from Montaigne), Nana takes to the streets, becoming a prostitute and a student of human emotions. Brechtian in its use of twelve dispassionately announced tableaux—the ninth including “perhaps the saddest ‘happy’ dance scene in cinema” (Ifan Davies)—Vivre sa vie is also intensely personal, like the act of prostitution itself. Nana’s crucible is Godard’s existential epiphany, as Nana struggles to see, and say, things as they are, bravely concluding, “All is good.” In the famous scene in a movie theater, Nana’s rapt attention to Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc is a tribute to another who sacrificed control to take control. We see through the face of Falconetti’s Joan to the soul of Nana.