Despite a career spanning four decades in which he made more than 100 films and directed France's most celebrated actors (from Depardieu to Brigitte Bardot), only one of Jean-Luc Godard's films -- Breathless
, his first feature -- was a financial and critical success. Many moviegoers criticized his films for being inaccessible, difficult to follow, self-masturbatory, self-conscious, and too short on action.Even in France, Godard's films struggled to find an audience. When his film, Helas pour Moi
("Unfortunately for Me"), starring Gerard Depardieu as a man whose body is taken over by God, was released the Paris daily newspaper Le Figaro reviewed it under the headline: "Helas pour Nous".
[The Nation's Stuart Klawans called it "so beautiful, playful, heartbroken, hopeful, multilayered and elusive that I'd better drop it at once." The film sold 70,000 tickets. By comparison, the 1993 comedy Les Visiteurs (the top-grossing French film of all time) sold some 13 million.]