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La Pointe Courte (1955)

La Pointe-Courte (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 4 January 1956 (France)
There are two parts to this film: sequences of life in the fishing village of La Pointe Courte (a government inspector's visit, the death of a child) alternate with others following a ... See full summary »

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Silvia Monfort ... Elle
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There are two parts to this film: sequences of life in the fishing village of La Pointe Courte (a government inspector's visit, the death of a child) alternate with others following a couple - He is from La Pointe Courte, she is Parisian - coming to terms with their changing relationship. Written by Alison Smith <mla22@cc.keele.ac.uk>

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4 January 1956 (France)  »

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La Pointe Courte  »

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1.37 : 1
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Director Agnès Varda made the film for roughly $14, 000. All the money went towards renting equipment and film, none of the actors or crew members were paid. See more »

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Featured in Great Directors (2009) See more »

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Varda's first film launches the French New Wave
6 January 2014 | by See all my reviews

La Pointe Courte is a small jut of land on the east side of Le Canal de Sète, which connects L'Étang de Thau to the Mediterranean Sea. In the mid-1950s, it harbored a small fishing village (perhaps it still does, for all I know) which provides the setting for this film. Written and directed by 26-year old Agnès (née Arlette) Varda, this, her first and perhaps her best film, is credited by some film critics and historians as the first in the French New Wave.

A young (24) Philippe Noiret plays a native of the village who returns from Paris after many years for a short vacation. Heretofore, I was familiar with Noiret only with some of his much later films. Silvia Monfort, with whom I was previously unfamiliar, and who had one of the most unusual faces I've seen on film, plays the disillusioned Parisian wife who joins him five days later to discuss their marriage.

What's interesting about this film are its two intertwining parts. One part, shot in a familiar narrative style, concerns the everyday life and concerns of the villagers. The other part depicts the conversations of the couple in an artistic style full of fascinating images and interesting camera angles, a style which takes full advantage of Varda's photographer's eye. (Varda used three different cinematographers on this shoot, but I don't know which of them photographed which scenes.)

Varda chose the location for the film after a visit there for an assignment as a still photographer. What I liked best about the part involving just the couple were the slow pans of the environments, almost as if Varda were trying to capture the characters' surroundings in a series of stills. On the other hand, I found somewhat disturbing the obtrusive soundtrack of a clarinet, which went counter to the notion that a soundtrack is supposed to enhance the mood of the scene, not play against it as I found this to do. Perhaps that is part of what accounts for this being credited as a New Wave film.


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