Varda by Agnès (Agnès Varda, 2019)
The best thing about in-depth film reviews or essays—not these ones and I’m not employing false modesty here—is the way they scrutinise classics and cult movies to reveal plenty of fantastic details that some amateurs like me would definitely miss. Unlike some bitter, childish fans might claim regarding their favourite comic-book movie, a well-written analysis can be of great use, but it’s more enlightening and appealing when it’s the very same director who reveals her tricks; e.g. the moment when Agnès Varda explains the meaning behind those travellings in Vagabond which they completely went over my head when I saw it (and loved) 15 years ago.
More like a recorded masterclass than a documentary or self-portrait movie, Varda by Agnès would be her least cinematic and original effort, which comes as a small disappointment for a feature film about an artist who always found creative ways to tell her stories.
This is basically Varda revisiting her whole filmography and art installations, but if it doesn’t feel like an insufferable vanity project, it’s because Varda had always come off as a charming and affectionate personality. Unlike some other heralded directors, Varda is not here to brag about her movies, accuse her critics as ignorants or proclaim herself as The Best, but rather to share her happiness for having the chance of making them in the first place.
Even though this is, no doubt, a minor work, it is always a pleasure to watch one of the greatest directors of all time sharing her love not only for cinema but for people and life without being cloying or superficial.
We miss you, Agnès!