Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Beaches of Agnès

Image from
The Beaches of Agnès by Agnès Varda. 2008.

Is probably the best film I've seen this year. Admittedly, I haven't seen too many; on the other hand, the year's almost over.

Toward the end, Varda sits in a room that looks Venetian-blinded. She sits on a rough stool made of film cans. Then you realise that the blinds are really film, celluloid hanging reel by reel. Her house of cinema is literal and, in the moment the instability and transience of material itself is made clear. She lives, as she says, in a house of cinema, but what does that really mean?

There were many, many lovely moments: not least seeing Godard without his dark glasses, Chris Marker's alter-ego, Resnais editing on an old Moviola, Jacques Demy aging before one's eyes. Also the mirrors on the beach, the art installation-nature of Varda's filmmaking, her self-appraisal that, for all its laying bare, slyly suggests that even spilling everything can leave you knowing nothing.


SUR NOTES said...

Gosh, i downloaded the film a few days back, by sheer chance. And here I am reading your review. Serendipity!

Subashini said...

I'm a new convert to Varda, and I just watched this a few months ago. Precisely because it's a retrospective on a creative life and its processes, it's the kind of film that can fix something in you, if something inside of you is feeling a little broken.

I was very taken by the mirrors on the beach installation - your words that it "slyly suggests that even spilling everything can leave you knowing nothing" are perfect.