The Gleaners and I
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Time Out saysThe French title of this delightful, encouraging documentary underlines how Agnès Varda identifies with her subjects - social marginals who 'glean' a living, from the earth (caravan dwellers) or from refuse (the teacher of Malian and Senegalese immigrants whom she befriends at a Paris street market). The veteran film-maker is newly inspired and energised by the freedom her DV camera brings. The film is marked by youthful freshness, and the integrity and sympathy of both the images and the commentary, as Varda hurtles us to Arras, Beaune or Paris in search of the new generation of foragers. Cheekily, she places a frocked lawyer in a crop field, so he can declaim on section 12.26.10 of the penal code enshrining the historic right to take harvest leftovers; persuades an art gallery to disinter a painting of glaneurs from its vaults; takes tips from a young Michelin chef who gleans herbs for his restaurant; or marvels at the totem towers of a nonagenarian Russian 'poubelle' artist. It's as if, in following the line of her inspiration, Varda has re-mapped France, her demography of 'marginalia' uniting a diverse community of individuals who're unearthed and celebrated with an intimacy and discretion that is essentially political.