Sunday 28 July 2019

Faces Places (Visages Villages) [2017]

Agnès Varda’s extraordinary ability to find and portray fascinating human stories – with stirring political and feminist defiance – and beautifully mix them, in subversion of the conventional form, with personal elements (memories, musings, banter, self-deprecatory humour) were on delectable, playful display in her penultimate work Faces Places. She truly remained a hipster and anarchist – unwilling to be pigeonholed, eternally curious and disarmingly subversive – till her death, as evidenced by this whimsical, infectious and poignant joyride made just 2 years prior to her demise. She collaborated here with street artist JR – the young, gangly, fidgety guy always in shades made for a hilarious contrast with the aged, pint-sized, slow-moving lady with dreamy eyes – as they embarked on trips, in the latter’s camera-van, through the French countryside, encountering people defying norms and creating massive public art on them. The last tenant in a former mining community, a woman dairy farmer who refuses to cut off goats’ horns to make them more pliant, a group of dockworkers’ wives, a solitary farmer who works in isolation in his 2000-acre farm, an eccentric postman who’s more than just that, a group of factory workers – the docu is filled with such heartwarming, non-conformist stories. And these were endearingly juxtaposed with self-reflexive, personal anecdotes – the palpable warmth between the two idiosyncratic artists; a photo by Varda of Guy Bourdin flyposted on a surrealistic former German bunker, highlighting the ephemeral nature of JR’s works; a revisit to JR’s adorable centenarian grandmother; a pilgrimage to Henri Cartier-Bresson’s nondescript grave; and, in the film’s most affecting sequence, a visit to the house of her idol and former friend from Nouvelle Vague days, the ever radical and unpredictable Godard, ending in disappointment.

Director: Agnes Varda
Genre: Documentary/Essay Film/Road Movie
Language: French
Country: France

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