Sandrine Bonnaire won the Best Actress César for her portrayal of the defiant young drifter Mona, found frozen to death in a ditch at the beginning of Vagabond. Agnès Varda pieces together Monas story through flashbacks told by those who encountered her (played by a largely nonprofessional cast), producing a splintered portrait of an enigmatic woman. With its sparse, poetic imagery, Vagabond (Sans toit ni loi) is a stunner, and won Varda the top prize at the Venice Film Festival.
"A masterpiece, clearly one of the finest films in many a year." - Gene Siskel
"Vagabond has been called Agnès Vardas Ulysses, and with good reason. The comparison with James Joyces era-defining epic novel extends well beyond a recognizable similarity between the two artists. Both writer and filmmaker occupy vanguard positions in the history of their respective forms, each bringing an experimental vitality to his and her work that affirms the social dimension of art. Just as Joyce attempted to describe contemporary consciousness by reworking the Homeric foundation of modern culture, so does Varda model her simple tale-of a womans place in todays complex and unresponsive worldon that seminal document of modernist cinema, Orson Welles Citizen Kane.
If you tell the story of Citizen Kane, Varda has said, its not much of a story. An old rich mogul man is dead. He said a word we dont understand. We dont discover so much, just some pieces of his life and finally it is just a sled. Is that a story? It is not much. So what makes Citizen Kane so interesting is the way [Welles] told us about the manintriguing us about what people think about him. And, with as much perversity as playfulness, Varda gives us the total inversion of Welles masterpiece in Vagabond: a young, poor vagrant woman is dead. She died in a way we dont understand. We dont discover so much, just some pieces of her life and finally it is just a pagan ritual of the vine." - Sandy Flitterman-Lewis author of To Desire Differently: Feminism and the French Cinema (1990)
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