Sandrine Bonnaire won the Best Actress César for her portrayal of the defiant young drifter Mona, found frozen to death in a ditch at the beginning of Vagabond. Agnès Varda pieces together Mona’s story through flashbacks told by those who encountered her (played by a largely nonprofessional cast), producing a splintered portrait of an enigmatic woman. With its sparse, poetic imagery, Vagabond (Sans toit ni loi) is a stunner, and won Varda the top prize at the Venice Film Festival.—The Criterion Collection
Agnès Varda has been called the “Grandmother of the New Wave,” a well-meaning if curious tribute for a woman who directed her first feature film at the age of 26. Born in Brussels, Varda studied literature and psychology at the Sorbonne, and art history at the École du Louvre. She’d originally wanted to be a museum curator, but a night-school course in photography changed her mind. Rapidly establishing herself as a top-rank still photographer, Varda became the official cameraperson for the Theatre Festival of Avignon and the Theatre National Populaire, and then pursued a career as a photojournalist.
Encouraged by filmmaker Alain Resnais, Varda made her movie directorial bow in 1955 with La Pointe Courte. She based the film on a William Faulkner short story, to which she was attracted because of its parallel plotlines (a recurring device in her later films). That same year, she accompanied another future New Wave director, Chris Marker, to China as visual advisor for his Dimanche… read more
A low-key film centring the life of a modern-day nomad, whose very existence seems to ignite a self-reflexive urge in those she encounters. This is somewhat like the effects of the mysterious guest in Pasolini's Teorema, albeit with different aesthetics. While the Guest in Teorema exposes the spiritual poverty of bourgeois life, Mona seems to elucidate the inexorable compromise: freedom vs. emotional security.
Bleak and uncompromising; it inverts the Rossellinian modern the ur-type of which is the Voyage to Italy, here the illumination is indeed Death, the negative sublime. Mona is a foil to the viewer, not something to identify with but someone who is the other who reveals our selves to us, like she does to each person she encounters... But I feel embarrassed with all this fancy talk when faced with the power of the film
Also: New books, new DVD/Blu-ray releases, new Sight & Sound.
"In the next two weeks," announces Not Coming to a Theater Near You, "in coordination with the availability of a great chunk of her oeuvre
The Auteurs—MUBI's center for film curation—is collaborating with Agnès Varda to show the filmmaker's shorts and features online, many of which
To celebrate the Le cinema d’Agnès Varda, the virtual retrospective currently running on The Auteurs, I thought I'd take a look at Varda’s
Around the 80’s many young girls appeared in the streets because they decided to live in freedom.
Vagabond is the story of Mona who has moved to live this way. She’s shown as a person who is… read review
The movie presents a character through a series of ellipsis and episodes where you see her complexity fully and you also see how others see her, in a way that says more about those judging her than… read review
It’s not that I didn’t like this film, but rather, the character Mona. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anything redeeming about her and it’s difficult to care about what happens to a person like that… read review