A body of a woman who has frozen to death is found in a ditch at a vineyard. Talking to those who saw the unlucky wanderer last, the unseen interviewer (Agnès Varda) reconstructs the final days of her life. Believed to be Varda’s key achievement, this poetic picture was awarded a Golden Lion at the 1985 Venice Film Festival. Sandrine Bonnaire won the 1986 Best Actress César for the role of the defiant Mona. The film will be screened from a 35mm film.
Inspired by the narrative structure of Citizen Kane—the grand portrait of a rich and enigmatic media mogul—Varda has shot a down-to-earth picture about a wanderer who is just as mysterious as Kane. Varda had been mixing documentary footage into her features since La Pointe Courte; in Vagabond, she intersperses the story with pseudo-documentary interviews with people who had seen Mona last. Filmed with non-professional actors and Varda’s humor and insight, the kaleidoscope of interviews creates a vibrant and complex portrait of French society.
Running away from a boring office job and refusing to settle down, on her journey, Mona meets people of all trades and classes: a bourgeois family and their hapless maid, a gang of burglars, drug dealers, a prostitute, a worker from Tunisia, a shepherd with a Master’s degree in philosophy, and a university professor. The feelings she evokes in them are just as varied: from disliking and even fear to perplexed fascination. Varda herself, however, seems to portray the girl who has made her choice without passing judgments. The camera picks up Mona’s own emotions: the pointless panoramas of small streets and the countryside picking out on random objects echo the overwhelming feeling of freedom and despair slowly creeping in.
The film will be screened in French with Russian subtitles.
Director: Agnès Varda
France, 1985. 105 min. 18+