Faces Places (Visages Villages) is the delightful new documentary by and about legendary French filmmaker Agnès Varda and enigmatic street artist JR. Visually, they make for an unlikely duo – he a lithe, image conscious 30-something, she a short, amiable octogenarian – and the film leans into this incongruity, envisaging in a deadpan opening sequence what it might have looked like if the pair had met in a nightclub. The premise is straightforward – this newly-formed odd couple will tour rural France, photograph regular folk, listen to their life stories, and plaster their blown-up visages across the sides of buildings. Varda is clearly energised by the company of her youthful partner, but the nature of their undertaking naturally encourages reflection and introspection. Thus, she begins to ruminate on her life’s work, her failing health and key figures from her past, in a manner that’s extremely moving to behold. Jean-Luc Godard, Varda’s last living nouvelle vague contemporary, looms particularly large, with a final-act visit to his home packing a devastating emotional punch. Throughout, the balance between playfulness and poignancy is handled impeccably.
Faces Places | Directed by Agnès Varda, JR (France 2017) documentary. Starts May 31
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