After a bust-up with her boyfriend (Labarthe), pretty, petite Parisian shopgirl Nana (Karina) leaves her job, intending to become an actress, but drifts into a life of prostitution in order to cover her rent. Trouble soon brews with her pimp Raoul (Rebbot) over money matters, paving the way for tragedy.
Presented in twelve discrete chapters, Godard's exquisitely shot “My Life to Live” is an homage to Danish beauty Karina (his wife at the time), a clever treatise on film aesthetics, and an extended metaphor on capitalism-as-prostitution. Melding documentary techniques with highly stylized sequences, Godard injects the film with visual verve and a freshness that comes directly from Karina, whom he refused to give lines to until moments before each shot. The high point of this New Wave classic is an indelibly poignant shot of Karina weeping at a screening of Dreyer's “The Passion of Joan of Arc,” a brilliant stroke that gives Godard's “My Life to Live” an additional layer of emotion, just for film lovers.