“It is difficult to form a judgment of a film in which the true and the false, the true-false and the false-true, are intermingled according to barely perceived rules.”--Truffaut writing on another Agnes Varda film, La Pointe Courte (1955), which I believe applies to Les Creatures as well, although the difficulty mentioned is our method of receiving potent rewards.
Are they in purgatory after dying in the car crash? And then reincarnated as a crabby baby? Is the wife alive, or his imaginary friend? Is it all a novel? Regardless, Varda letting us watch over her shoulder as she sketches with a pencil, erases, corrects, writes alternate paragraphs in the margins. Brimming with film magic, knitted tighter even as it fragments. I found it refreshing to hear modern music as a score!
As a loving couple acclimate to their new home, the husband encounters some troubled townspeople. The town is thrust into turmoil with the only clues being magical medallions. Situations intensify once a local evil has come out of hiding. A game of wits then begins and the stakes are high. The husband must play to maintain peace in the town, fix things gone wrong, and for his wife's very life.
Unlike anything I would have expected from Varda's catalog. Gripping, even when it didn't totally feel like it worked. The camera movement to the theatricalized acting to the total stream of consciousness storytelling keep this piece one of a kind. Amazing to think this film was hated by critics. 4.5
(3.5 stars) That was straight up trippy! Kinda cool, actually. Not sure it's meant to be fully understood, and that's fine. Quite experimental in many ways. Some cool images and odd ideas that I dug. The only thing I HATED were those dreadful violins screeching constantly at various times. Made some scenes unwatchable. Eventually I just began muting it when they started up. But otherwise... pretty intriguing stuff.
The thing I liked best about this early Varda film is its use of the everyday to show science fiction. Her use of everything around to tell a story at once sarcastic next romantic is something only Varda can do. Like an avant garde filmmaker in Free Radicals. Attending an avant garde seminar in Paris, on the stage, the avant garde filmmaker and Agnes Varda. Varda got all the attention... she told a story.
If Varda is unmatched in her prolific originality, donning genres, like so many hats, with irrepressible wit and whimsy, The Creatures is perhaps evidence of the 'cost' side of that ledger. A film so clearly worth more (and more serious) attention than it was given that no amount of style or cleverness can avert the sense of impending dissatisfaction that sets in at least halfway through... Meh.