According to the literally thinking movie-critics (who survive on advertising movies to the consumers), the main character of the film is a “wandering criminal”, “a smalltime thief”, “a young hoodlum”, etc., and this characterizations are pettily true (for these people to be “right” is be literally, tautologically right). Of course, Michel Poiccard is also what they say he is, but something in him made Truffaut write a story about him, made Godard create a movie dedicated to his predicaments, and Godard and Truffaut are not Quentin Tarantino. Something in Michel makes Patricia Franchini, the American girl, working hard for her future in the realm of journalism, in France, let him to live in her tiny hotel room, be in love with him, betray him to police because of her love, and after he was murdered by police, make an oath of loyalty to his memory.

Something in Michel’s character is much more existentially “polyphonic” than it’s possible for a petty criminal. For example, in spite of the obvious absence of liberal arts education background in his past, he is much more refined, than Patricia’s friend – the licensed journalist. Michel is modest. With Patricia he is sensitive and acts with genuine humility. He doesn’t put up the macho defenses of either overconfidence or indifference. In spite of the shadow of independence he desperately needs Patricia’s love – for him it’s not enough to be sexually successful with her. It is, as if, his future and more, his identity depends on their love. It looks that Michel has a dream not just about a great love with Patricia outside France, but about alternative life outside the competitive and consumerist seductions and addiction to entertainment. Whatever he is, he is internally other for our stressful and chaotic environment. For Godard, he is, it seems, the personification of fundamental otherness, which in him exist on the level of almost unconscious sensibility, not yet fully incarnated neither in his personality, nor in his thinking. Can it be, that Michel Poiccard is the personification of a still embryonic genuinely democratic potential of our pompous and corrupted (by megalomania and cruelty) democracy?

Michel is an image of human potential for an alternative life. For what kind of alternative? It seems that it’s not completely specified even for Michel himself. We observe him in love with Patricia and see, that he is free from the need to manipulate her even unconsciously (as is the case in many “proper” spouses) to make her do and feel what he wants. We see how “democratically” he met her confession about betraying him to the police, without any narcissistic shock, not only without anger-and-fury at her, but without a trace of panic and losing himself in desperate situation. And he didn’t lose himself by trying to resist police – he didn’t try to shoot at the policeman or really run away. He slowly followed his final path towards freedom – until his death from the police bullet to his spine.

Michel’s last communication with the world took place when lying on the ground while dying, he, unable to speak, reproduced his mimic formula of conformism which only Patricia has understood. With Patricia Michel was confident but without any bravado. In a way, he is a big child, but a wunderkind. He is like an existentially spiritual potential in democracy, which in 21st century, when people are in a process of being reduced into rivals/fighters with others for financial success, has even less chances to develop.

“Breathless” belongs to the rarest kind of films which communicate not so much by its content, but through its form (by semantic tonalities and by narrative and visual metaphors) and address viewers’ mental sensations and non-circumstantial experiences-oriented intuitions. Such bizarre films’ communications are pedagogical, not authoritarian or seductive or provoking. In comparison with them the images of Hollywood-made or any entertaining movies are, in essence, slogans, authoritarian suggestions. Michel, on the other hand, can open himself to the soul of the viewers only through not-obvious (and non-habitual), because the realm of the obvious in perception is built on accepting propaganda and advertisement as truth and is congruent with viewers’ tendency to react in conformist way (in a conformist or blindly anti-conformist manner). To accept the obvious means not to think but to compulsively appropriate – things, ideas, emotions, or to refuse/destroy them without understanding. It means to live by blindly loving and equally blindly hating, with symbiotic immediacy.

Michel’s (Jean-Paul Belmondo) childishly arrogant posture vis-a-vie Paris and its inhabitants and tourists.

Godard filming a scene between Patricia and Michel in her tiny hotel room.

Godard pushes Raoul Coutard (with his camera) on wheeled chair during shooting a scene

Godard celebrates his first film with Jean Seberg (Patricia Franchini)

Godard in “Breathless” impersonates/examines the very potential for secret informing in French citizens

The tree in the depth we see at the distance between Patricia and “her friend” (who is helping her with her career) is the image of the very importance of social success in modern life. This makes the tree not only a tree of knowledge, but tree of life.