The Beaches of Agnès
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Time Out says
Tue Sep 29 2009Agnès Varda may be Brussels born and raised, but she’s every inch a part of French cinema history: she has been making films in France for over 50 years, almost as long as she’s been based in Paris, where she enjoyed early friendships with Alain Resnais and Chris Marker, and was married to Jacques Demy, director of ‘The Umbrellas of Cherbourg’, from 1962 until his death in 1990. This, she says, is her last film, although, for Varda, filming and photographing are reflex actions, and the border between fact and fiction is blurred, so one imagines and hopes she’ll at least continue to make art installations and shorts.
‘The Beaches of Agnès’ is a puckish, moving and wonderfully eccentric tour through her life – a tour guided by Varda herself, petite and mushroom-haired, as she visits people and places (more places than people) close to her heart and work. Memories and reconstructions bounce off each other as Varda stages interpretations of her life – such as sailing up the Seine in a small boat to signify her move from Sète to Paris – or recreates situations, such as crafting a theatre set to reflect her long-time Paris house in its original state, and gathering old, aged friends from Sète to fish on the beach. Alongside these autobiographical episodes, which fall between documented performance pieces and filmed installations, we see the odd clip of her or her films, but most of the past is channelled through the present and the strongest sense of nostalgia is reserved for Demy, whom Varda still mourns and for whom she displays unquestioned love.
Author: Dave Calhoun