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Jean-Luc Godard's brilliantly Brechtian tale of a young woman (Anna Karina) gradually sliding into prostitution is one of the glories of the French New Wave.
A high point of Godard's career, Vivre sa vie employs an innovative structure consisting of twelve tableaux to tell the story of Nana S. (Anna Karina), an innocent who comes to Paris to become an actress, but ends up as a prostitute — first as an amateur to pay the rent, then as a professional — in order to "live her life." Influenced by Bresson, Brecht and Rossellini, Vivre sa vie has any number of sublime sequences, including the one in which Karina weeps as she watches Falconetti suffer in Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc, and a Demy-like dance sequence in a café (Nana's one moment of joy) that offers pure formal euphoria. "One of the most extraordinary, beautiful, and original works of art that I know of... [It] seems to me a perfect film" (Susan Sontag); "I've seen it twenty-seven times... Together with Buñuel's Viridiana, it is the most important film I've seen in my life" (Rainer Werner Fassbinder).