TIFF 2019: Our Review of ‘Varda by Agnes’

TIFF 2019: Our Review of ‘Varda by Agnes’

Director Agnes Varda could do no wrong, but we still have to dissect why that’s the case. That’s especially true with her latest film, Varda by Agnes, where she talks about her work. Other filmmakers would look like egomaniacs if they did the same thing, but thankfully, she does not. And that’s because, as she films herself doing a bunch of talks, she discusses her many collaborators. She literally shares the stage with them, as conscious of live space like it was film.

Varda by Agnes looks at her illustrious, decades long career that both has its highs and lows. This film organizes her many public speeches either in opera houses or on her previous sets. She sometimes looks into the camera during these location shoots, but doesn’t during the talks on stage. There’s something meta about how she can see herself and her work objectively while simultaneously being ego-less. It also shows how she fully engages with both a live audience and future, cinematic ones.

Film retrospectives like this aren’t complete without clips of the films she directed. And there’s lots here. Here she shows off both a sense of time and ephemeral place that these films beautifully capture. She depicts cities and the people within them as characters, exposing their polarities and complementary contradictions. Her camera is at home both in France and, occasionally, America, her past and present in unison. We can hear her in some of these clips, making us wish she was still here.

(This is a short version of my review of Varda by Agnes. I will release a longer version during the film’s regular release on November 2019. Meanwhile, for tickets and information during its festival release, go to https://www.tiff.net/events/varda-by-agnes.)

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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