Breathless Essay

Richard Schertzer
3 min readSep 2, 2022

The qualities of a character are what make that character very compelling and can make or break their development in the plot of the film. Nobody from the audience wants a bland character because that would be boring and nobody wants a character that remains in the spotlight without any supporting characters bracketing the film.

In Jean-Luc Godard’s film Breathless, we, as the audience, are introduced to Michel Poiccard who is a young, reckless and careless person who, after stealing a car, kills a police officer who followed him for suspected theft.

Throughout the run of the film, Michel is shown to be very careless as he is shown to have no remorse of the killing and only feels fear of being caught and apprehended by the police if found out.

His values lie under the recesses of his narcissism and his own ego and self-preservation. He seems only concerned with his self-interests as he shows little to no remorse. His values also center around sex with his “girlfriend” whom he tries to procure help from after the police officer shooting incident.

Michel’s personality is that of something adjacent to a sociopath as he has almost no regard for other people in the film and this identity that he has is that of a selfish, self-centered narcissist with insecurity issues, usually centered around Patricia, and a lack of sympathy for other people.

Michel has a propensity for acting recklessly which is why Patricia enjoys his company. She, like Michel, enjoys living on the wild side of life and, therefore, makes an interesting pair.

In contrast, however, Patricia is a student, aspiring journalist and more or a social justice warrior and with that being said, it seems that she has more awareness and sympathy of what is around her than Michel.

This makes the pair différent in this perspective, yet somehow they are both drawn to each other like flies to rotten meat. Could this possibly be a call to opposites attract in the movies?

Moreover, Patricia does seem like a more caring person than her male counterpart. She has a resilient quality of trying to sell newspapers and trying to become a journalist to possibly promote social awareness to the world. She has a sparkle hidden somewhere in her eyes that speaks the language of perseverance and modesty. She does this without almost asking for anything in return. It is this dynamic between the two characters that may have led them adrift and may have been the reason that Patricia double-crossed Michel in the end.

In conclusion, both Michel and Patricia remain very différent people at the end of the film and it’s this rift between the two characters that causes a divide and makes them a very incompatible couple with one being self-interested and the other being more learned and sympathetic.

— -Richard Schertzer

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Richard Schertzer

Richard is a Howard University grad student and is working as a content writer and filmmaker with the dream to make films in Hollywood.