A small-time thief steals a car and impulsively murders a motorcycle policeman. Wanted by the authorities, he reunites with a hip American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy.
Breathless (French: Àbout de souffle, lit. ”Out of Breath”) is a 1960 French crime drama film written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard. It stars Jean-Paul Belmondo as a wandering criminal named Michel, and Jean Seberg as his American girlfriend Patricia. The film was Godard’s first feature-length work and represented Belmondo’s breakthrough as an actor.
Breathless is one of the earliest and more influential examples of French New Wave (nouvelle vague) cinema. Along with François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows and Alain Resnais’s Hiroshima mon amour, both released a year earlier, it brought international attention to new styles of French filmmaking. At the time, Breathless attracted much attention for its bold visual style, which included unconventional use of jump cuts.
Upon its initial release in France, the film attracted over two million viewers. It has since become considered one of the best films ever made, appearing in Sight & Sound magazine’s decennial polls of filmmakers and critics on the subject on multiple occasions. In May 2010, a fully restored version of the film was released in the United States to coincide with the film’s 50th anniversary.
Breathless ranked as the No. 22 best film of all time in the decennial British Film Institute’s 1992 Sight and Sound Critics’ Poll. In the 2002 poll, it ranked 15th. Ten years later, in 2012, Breathless was the No. 13 best film of all time in the overall Sight and Sound poll, and the 11th best film in the concurrent Directors’ Poll. In 2018 the film ranked 11th on the BBC’s list of the 100 greatest foreign-language films, as voted on by 209 film critics from 43 countries.