The Beaches of Agnes [Les Plages d'Agnes]

"Excellent"

The Beaches of Agnes [Les Plages d'Agnes] Review


Varda brings a playful attitude to this whimsical stroll through her life, telling stories and showing photos and clips that chronicle both her career and her personal life. It meanders a bit, but it's also thoroughly engaging.

As she celebrates her 80th birthday, the iconic French filmmaker compiles an impressionistic collage of photographs, home movies, new scenes and clips from the classic films she had a hand in. She recounts her career alongside Godard and the Nouvelle Vague, and links her memories together with beaches from near her birthplace in Belgium to Los Angeles by way of Cuba and Cannes. She also installs a beach on a Paris street, occupied by female members of her staff.

We expect the witty visual gags and inventive, beautiful camera work, but what's surprising is Varda's charming presence on screen. She comments that she normally films others: "Here I am playing a little old lady," she says. "It's time to be me." And what emerges along the way is a lovely connection of past and present, matching old and new footage and themes while making small observations. Much of this is like performance art, but it's also deeply personal as she assembles clips from her films that piece together her own life story.

The idea is that it takes a variety of fragments to assemble a true picture of someone, and Varda's life has been lived through the cinema. But everything she looks at leads her back to Jacques Demy, and ultimately to her children and grandchildren. Her footage of Demy as he was dying is profoundly touching ("My only option as a filmmaker was to film him"), as are scenes with her children Mathieu and Rosalie.

Varda's playful personality comes through in the film's structure, which is carefully planned out but feels organic and refreshingly oblique. The gentle pace and warm tone are punctuated by outrageously cheeky scenes that include a full circus trapeze act on a beach or clips of Paris during the war. In the end, the film is an indulgent but beautiful love letter to future generations, as Varda notes that "while I live, I remember."



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Herself, André Lubrano as Himself, Blaise Fournier as Himself, Vincent Fournier as Himself

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Advertisement
Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Passengers Movie Review

Passengers Movie Review

Anchored by the almost ridiculously engaging Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, this sci-fi movie travels...

Neruda Movie Review

Neruda Movie Review

Clever Chilean director Pablo Larrain (who also directed Natalie Portman's Jackie) takes on the Nobel-winning...

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

Narrated by Daisy Ridley (The Force Awakens), this documentary is one of the most gripping...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.