Vivre Sa Vie (A Film in Twelve Episodes) / My Life to Live (1962)

Vivre Sa Vie (A Film in Twelve Episodes) / My Life to Live (1962)

“I think we’re always responsible for our actions. We’re free.”

After leaving her husband (Andre Labarthe), an aspiring actress (Anna Karina) eventually turns to prostitution to earn a living, working for a pimp (Sady Rebbot) with questionable morals.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Character Studies
  • French Films
  • Jean-Luc Godard Films
  • Prostitutes and Gigolos

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that in his “exceptional fourth film” — after Breathless (1960), Le Petit Soldat (1963) (actually completed in 1960), and A Woman is a Woman (1962) — Jean-Luc Godard presents “Karina’s prostitute,” a woman who “winds up a prostitute in order to pay her rent,” as “detached, not because he doesn’t care about Karina but because his remote style is meant to underscore the fact that this woman makes no emotional connection with the men she has sex with.”

He argues that “Godard’s point — made by the old philosopher (Brice Parapain) with whom Karina converses”:

… “and proven to her by the young client she comes to love… is that pleasure and fulfillment come less from the sexual act than through a stronger form of communication: talking, the interchange of words.” Peary adds that “as in all early Godard films, he experiments with his camera (i.e., juxtaposing abstract and real images in order to express ideas)” and “makes thematic references to films, literature, [and] music.”

While this film isn’t a personal favorite, I appreciate both Godard’s innovative style and Karina’s gripping performance. Even in an elusive role meant to distance us somewhat (Godard’s approach to her prostitution lifestyle is strictly clinical), Karina’s humanity shines through, and she’s a pleasure to watch on screen.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Anna Karina as Nana
  • Raoul Coutard’s cinematography

Must See?
Yes, for Karina’s performance.


  • Important Director
  • Noteworthy Performance(s)

(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)


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