2017 | Documentary | In French with English subtitles | 89 minutes
Agnès Varda, an 89-year old filmmaker, teams up with 34-year old JR, a photographer of public art. Despite their age difference, they are a perfect fit: both are environmentalists and humanists. They set out on a road trip trip hitting industrial and agricultural towns in France. JR does the driving and his van is equipped with everything he needs to develop and print photos. To the amusement of Agnès, JR is able to blow up his photos and post them on the sides of buildings and even on a stack of shipping containers. Meanwhile, Agnès’s chatty and warm-hearted demeanor brings out the deeper feelings and thoughts of the people she captures on film. But, underneath the joyfulness and good humor of JR and Agnès working so well together, they realize that the people they meet are living fragile lives, undergoing great changes, and not for the better.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 99
- Metacritic Score: 94
Academy Awards: Nominated, Best Documentary Feature
Vancouver International Film Festival: Voted “Most Popular International Documentary”
TIME Magazine: One of Top 10 Films of the Year
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Color me beguiled. This documentary by the unlikely French duo of filmmaking lion Agnès Varda and outdoor installation artist JR, is full of discovery, reflection, invention and transmogrification. The film is personal, playful, soulful, and kind. It leaves the viewer with a sense of the glories of images and communication—sometimes random, sometimes specific, always continual and cumulative.The only problem with FACES PLACES is that it ultimately ends.
Despite its unassuming, conversational ethos—which is also to say by means of Ms. Varda’s staunchly democratic understanding of her job as a filmmaker—FACES PLACES reveals itself as a powerful, complex and radical work. Ms.Varda’s modesty is evidence of her mastery, just as her playful demeanor is the expression of a serious and demanding aesthetic commitment. FACES PLACES is unforgettable, not because of dramatic moments or arresting images, but because once you have seen it you want to keep it with you, like a talisman or a souvenir. Wherever you’re going, it will surely come in handy.
FACES PLACES arrives as a lovely addition to the long line of personal documentaries about French life at ground level that Agnès Varda has been making throughout her entire career. It’s a poignant little jewel of a film.
Agnes Varda is almost 90 years old and she is still making films. That alone should be cause for dancing in the streets. But wait, there’s more: Agnès Varda is almost 90 years old and she is still making fantastic films. Searching, compassionate, provocative, funny sad ones. This is one of them. You should see it.
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