Denise Rimbaud abandons her husband, her job and the city to go and live in the country. Paul Godard, a television producer, is afraid to leave the city, afraid of loneliness since Denise left. Isabelle has left her country home to come to the city as a prostitute. Imagination, fear and commerce are, through the journey of these characters, the three movements of the film, all ending in the movement of music.
“Indeed, work becomes the film’s operative theme, as Isabelle explains to her sister what’s entailed in prostitution with terseness and a matter-of-fact procedure one might expect to find in any office manual.
The men throughout Every Man for Himself consistently seek to control women either through money or will power. When Paul is giving a talk at a local university, he claims Marguerite Duras is in the adjacent classroom, yet he’s unable to corral her into the space of the film, so that Paul tells the class Duras can’t make it. In one of the film’s most explicit satirical jabs at men speaking for women, a female student replies: ‘Couldn’t she just stop in to say she won’t stop in?’
Paul is consistently made a fool of by women, a trend that’s all the more curious since Godard names the lead character after himself, a gesture that either suggests the filmmaker’s humility or narcissism. At least, a more conventional understanding of the autobiographical dimensions between protagonist and filmmaker would point to each of their roles as producers and that, naturally, they share the same name. Yet following this line of inquiry merely takes one into the realm of psychoanalytic self-reflexivity, a mere pretext that Godard has always utilized as a sort of cinematic IED to counter a sense of his own hubris.”
- 1. Clayton Dillard, “Every Man for Himself,” Slant Magazine, 8 February 2015.