Masculin, Féminin is considered a “romantic drama”, however, more important than the plot development is the depiction of France in the 60s. Godard puts us right in the centre of Paris amidst its youth and we witness the influence of pop culture, music, politics and war.
Madeleine is an aspiring Ye-Ye singer and Paul’s girlfriend. She has impeccable style with her classic bob and no make-up look. She comes across as feminine, girly, fun-loving but she always makes it clear that she goes her own way, much to Paul’s chagrin.
Catherine gets on well with Paul and they seem to share a friendly bond. Her behaviour displays great perception to beauty and her surroundings, which makes her vulnerable. Therefore, she tends to keep people at a distance.
Elisabeth is feisty, and probably the one most in touch with reality. She seems to have a secret affair with Madeleine and clashes with Paul, without wanting to. She is confident, serious and less playful than the rest of the bunch.
“For me, sexuality involves the skin. I think that’s very important.”
Paul is a hapless, idealistic intellectual who falls for an ambitious singer, who is preoccupied with her career. He is smart, interesting, clingy and searching for a better life, according to his beliefs. Compromise is not really an option.
Robert, Paul’s friend, is a journalist. Together with Paul, they put up posters against the war in Vietnam. While he is confident and pretends to know a lot about women, he can’t get through to the one he likes. Perhaps because of his unlucky way with the ladies, he displays chauvinistic behaviour.
The people that we meet in the streets, in the cinema or cafés are part of the Zeitgeist. Our protagonists observe regulars, poets, celebrities, prostitutes, killers and players. With all those random encounters, Godard gives us his idea of Paris during the Swinging 60s.
“There was nothing, nothing at all. We were lost, happy to desire nothing again.”Brigitte Bardot reading out loud in a café
Brigitte Bardot, Antoine Bourseiller and Francoise Hardy make uncredited cameo appearances, which is very much in line with the entire ideology of the Nouvelle Vague.