France | 1972 | 96 minutes | Color
SYNOPSIS: In 1972, newly radicalized Hollywood star Jane Fonda joined forces with cinematic innovator Jean-Luc Godard and collaborator Jean-Pierre Gorin in an unholy artistic alliance that resulted in Tout va bien (Everything’s All Right). This free-ranging assault on consumer capitalism and the establishment left tells the story of a wildcat strike at a sausage factory as witnessed by an American reporter (Fonda) and her has-been New Wave film director husband (Yves Montand). Tout Va Bien is a masterpiece of radical cinema, a caustic critique of society, marriage, and revolution in post-1968 France.
Jean-Luc Godard’s Tout Va Bien Movie Stills
“The problem is not to make political films but to make films politically.”
Tout va bien’s announced purpose was to “consider the class struggle in France four years on from 1968.” And as the culmination of Godard’s political period, the movie is highly reflexive. Indeed, Tout va bien’s autocritique begins almost before the movie itself. “If you use stars, people will give you money,” an off-screen voice opines amid a flurry of filmed check-signing. True: Thanks to the participation of Jane Fonda, who plays an American radio journalist in France, and Yves Montand, as her filmmaker husband, Tout va bien was financed by Gaumont. (For a time, Paramount was interested as well.) To drive home the point, Fonda and Montand are introduced quoting lines from Godard’s previous star-driven commercial feature, Contempt—a parody for which Gorin later took credit. Montand and Fonda agreed to defer their salaries for a percentage of the eventual profits.
As cinema, Tout va bien is radically simplified and blatantly diagrammatic. The approach is self-consciously Brechtian: The characters frequently address the camera. These characters are characters and the set on which they appear is an obvious set.
Tout va bien insists on class struggle throughout but is mainly about radicalizing its stars. Their role in the factory is to look and learn. Indeed, Godard and Gorin upped the class-resentment ante by having the striking workers played not by real workers but by unemployed actors.