Monday 18 March 2019

La Pointe Courte [1955]

Agnès Varda’s remarkably assured and exquisitely shot directorial debut La Pointe Courte straddled across two iconoclastic film movements, without consciously aiming for that, though its two loosely connected narratives. The affecting 1st narrative portrayed, with humour, warmth, exuberance and lyricism, the life of a tightly-knit, impoverished fishing community in the eponymous French coastal village; the authorities are trying to clamp down as they believe the shellfish are contaminated by industrial effluents, which propels the fishermen to find new ways of dodging the city guys who they clearly disdain, while also enjoying their lives despite the meagre means at their disposal. The other narrative covered an unnamed Parisian couple (Philippe Noiret and Silvia Monfort) who’ve come there to spend a few days together; they roam around the fields, river banks and discarded boats discussing about their crumbling marriage, and hoping if there’s a way to save it yet. The only instance where the two narratives coincided was during the end when the couple is finally seen enjoying while attending an annual revelry that the village hosts. The infectious former narrative had all the distinctive elements of Italian Neorealism, including a non-professional cast, on-location shooting and delightful naturalism. The latter narrative, on the other hand, was discursive, self-reflexive and stylized – the arresting close-up shots of the profile of one cutting in half the face of the other, would reappear more famously in Bergman’s Persona. Though I found the latter stilted and artsy, it did bear early signs of the Nouvelle Vague movement, even if it would still be around half a decade before Truffaut would debut with The 400 Blows, Resnais (who edited this film) with Hiroshima Mon Amour, and Godard with Breathless.

Director: Agnes Varda
Genre: Drama/Rural Drama/Marital Drama
Language: French
Country: France

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