Agnès Varda had resided for many years in Rue Daguerre, a lively market street in Paris’ 14th Arrondisement and Montparnasse district named after the pioneering inventor of photographic process Louis Daguerre, since moving in here as a young photographer herself. Awash in nostalgia and amusing reflections, Daguerréotypes was her loving homage to this fascinating, chaotic, demographically diverse, working class neighbourhood, filled with gentle observations on the simple-natured, hard-working, blue-collared folks – middle-aged and ageing couples and immigrants from various parts of France and beyond – who own and run the small shops, stores and establishments situated along its pavements. Selling everything from perfumes and haberdashery to bakery items and meat products, running salons for men and women, tailoring dresses, repairing old clocks, and providing music and driving lessons to the young and the old, this was the kind of closely-knit community where everyone knew everybody’s histories, the local sounds and smells were integral parts of their existences, and time flew at its own sweet speed – the kind of irresistible, albeit largely vanished, time capsule that Tati had immortalized in Mon Oncle. The documentary comprises of a collage of candid scenes of daily life – each day being almost like any other random day – with people buying home-made perfumes, baguettes, sirloin steaks and whatnot, partaking lessons in musical instruments and traffic rules, chatting with each other on the streets and within the shops, and going about in their quotidian tasks; it also has heartwarming interactions with these people and descriptions of them through voiceover by Varda herself, and a rather funny magic show too. Accompanied by the lilting tunes of accordion, this sepia-toned, warm-hearted mosaic portrayed the poetry and beauty within the banal.
Director: Agnes Varda