Feature

The Beaches of Agnès

Agnès Varda, one of the major progenitors of France’s New Wave movement, retraces her steps in this whimsical and remarkable film memoir.

Directed by Agnès Varda
(Not Rated)

****

The grande dame of the French New Wave looks back.

The Beaches of Agnès is a “genuinely playful wander down memory lane by one of France’s most revered filmmakers,” said Neil Young in The Hollywood Reporter. Agnès Varda was one of the major progenitors of France’s New Wave movement—and the only female one. In this whimsical documentary, the 81-year-old director,­ now a “genially wise, slightly batty kind of bohemian granny,” walks backward—sometimes literally—through her colorful life. It’s a “remarkable history, rich in comedy and occasionally heartbreaking,” said Manohla Dargis in The New York Times. Varda revisits her childhood home in Belgium, and her later haunts in Paris, artfully blurring memories with dream-like montages, ­re-enactments and surrealist set pieces. She doesn’t so much tell you about her past; instead she “lets you into her feelings” and shows you how she sees her world. In other words, it’s pure “cinematic reverie,” said David Edelstein in New York. Memoirs should “show the world through another’s eyes and inspire you to live alertly,” and that is the glory of The Beaches of Agnès.

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