Documenteur

Documenteur ★★★★½

Director: Agnès Varda Ranked

Astonishing. Life distilled. Documenteur has the lifeblood of all of Varda's works, and is another reason why she is one of my all time favorite directors, even after only seeing six or so of her films.

The story is very simple: a woman and her son are still new to America when her and her husband separate. Still in a new mysterious place, she must find a place for her and her son to call home. However the story, while being simple, isn't really about what you hear. It's about what you see. The opening monologue of Documenteur tells us that in every face there is a voyage. And Agnes Varda wants to show you everyone's face. The real stories are in the backgrounds, small stories of real people distilled in time.

What I gather from the title is this: Although the lead characters of the films aren't making a documentary for film, I think that the movie itself is telling us that in one way or another we are all taking down these stories in our minds. Just by being present and paying attention to others, we help their stories survive. I know that this plays as somewhat of a fictional companion piece to Varda's documentary Mur Murs, and it makes me all the more excited to see that.

The central performances are fantastic. Mathieu Demy, son of Varda and her husband Jacques Demy, is really marvelous and surprisingly endearing. Sabine Mamou has a really great natural presence to her, and she is able to seamlessly blend in with any environment she is shot in. While some of the other acting done by bit parts may feel a bit jagged or rough around the edges, in my opinion that just helps to paint a picture of an imperfect world. It's a fantastic movie, and Agnes Varda was legendary.