The Beaches of Agnès
(Les plages d’Agnès)
Agnès Varda takes a cinematic stroll through her career—and the history of French film—in this jovial first-person documentary that “walks backwards” across the beaches, landscapes, and movie sets of her life and times. For some, turning eighty may mean settling down, but for the “Grandmother of the French New Wave” it was cause for reflection, irreverence, and a continued reinvention of the cinematic form. Recollections of a wartime childhood, an early career as a photographer, and her emergence as a filmmaker coincide with remembrances of friends and colleagues, a who’s-who that includes Jean-Luc Godard, Gérard Depardieu, Alexander Calder, Jim Morrison, and members of the Black Panthers; special attention is paid to fellow Left Bank filmmakers like good friend Chris Marker (who “appears” in his favorite feline guise) and Varda’s great love, Jacques Demy. As charming and idiosyncratic as Varda herself, The Beaches of Agnès was one of her last features, but it’s as youthful and vigorous as her first, 1955’s La Pointe Courte.