There is a disturbing quality in Godard’s work that perhaps helps to explain why the young are drawn to his films and identify with them, and why so many older people call him a “coterie” artist and don’t think his films are important. His characters don’t seem to have any future. They are most alive (and most appealing) just because they don’t conceive of the day after tomorrow; they have no careers, no plans, only fantasies of roles they could play, of careers, thefts, romance, politics, adventure, pleasure, a life like in the movies. Even his world of the future, Alphaville, is, photographically, a documentary of Paris in the present. (All of his films are in that sense documentaries—as were also, and also by necessity, the grade B American gangster films that influenced him.) And even before Alphaville, the people in The Married Woman were already science fiction—so blank and affectless no mad scientist was required to destroy their souls.
Pauline Kael: Movie Brutalists, 1966