In Godard’s Masculin Féminin, the center of the world for Paul is ‘love’ while the center of the world for Madeleine is ‘self’. In the end, self conquers love. With the demise of Paul, and Madeleine experimenting with her sexuality as her singing career thrives, the film does not illustrate any male or female preference but simply an illustration of 60’s Parisian youth.
As in Vivre sa Vie, the film experiments with existentialism. Madeleine is in control of her life and seems to increasingly have a grip of the people and situations around her. As her life progresses in confidence, Paul’s life reaches a point of desperation because of his dependency to be driven solely by Madeleine’s love.
Merleau- Ponty explains in Sens et Non-Sens, “The new psychology has revealed man to us not as an understanding which constructs the world but as a being thrown into the world and attached to it by a natural bond.” Madeleine’s continuous use of the mirror, as it is displayed in the opening scene as well as in the ten-minute bathroom scene, may symbolize superficiality and narcissism. However, it can de argued that Godard was determining existential ideas and effectively reversing the gaze from the spectator to the protagonist herself.
We discover Madeleine by an examination of her exterior, her experiences, her pop star mode and peppiness against the somber, crazed, and troublesome world of Paul. Eventually the life-making decisions that Madeleine is subjected to in the end of the film give her an equal amount of severity as we may have already conspicuously seen in Paul.
Madeleine, just like all the characters in the film, is victimized and is subject to the modern world, a world of war, sexual freedom, and pop-culture. Although Godard portrayed a clear distinction in the male and female partiality of thoughts and attitudes, I argue that both masculine and feminine characters share an equal amount of profundity and experience that is sincere to their time.