7 user 3 critic

Documenteur (1981)

A young French woman, separated from her lover, tries to find a lodging in L.A. for herself and her son.


Agnès Varda


Agnès Varda
1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview:
Sabine Mamou Sabine Mamou ... Emilie Cooper
Mathieu Demy ... Martin Cooper
Lisa Blok-Linson Lisa Blok-Linson ... Lisa, l'amie (as Lisa Blok)
Tina Odom Tina Odom ... Tina, la serveuse
Gary Feldman Gary Feldman ... L'écrivain à sa fenêtre
Tom Taplin ... Tom Cooper
Fred Ricker Fred Ricker ... Le couple du motel
Kelly Ricker Kelly Ricker ... Le couple du motel
Charles Southwood ... L'homme au water bed
Chris Leplus Chris Leplus ... Le producteur de l'autre film
Barry Farrell Barry Farrell ... Un homme de l'autre film
Andrew Meyer Andrew Meyer ... Un homme de l'autre film
Delphine Seyrig ... Delphine (voice)
Gerald Ayres ... Récitante (voice) (as Gérard Ayres)
Joan Torres Joan Torres ... Récitante (voice)


A young French woman, separated from her lover, tries to find a lodging in L.A. for herself and her son.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Did You Know?


The couple fighting about rent were not actors and happened to be arguing while the film was being shot. Director Agnès Varda asked if her camera bothered them and neither one minded and continued to argue through the filming. See more »


References King Kong (1933) See more »

User Reviews

A way to have a body
23 June 2015 | by chaos-rampantSee all my reviews

Varda continues to travel with just a camera, content to film with no larger narrative in mind other than to approach things, here motherhood, breakup, loneliness. She's in LA here, I was initially keen for just that aspect; how would she see that place of dreams?

In a previous entry, Daguerrotypes, it was the senile old wife of a Parisian perfume maker that captured her the most, looking achingly lost in the small shop as she sat by the door, not fully there anymore, like time was blowing through her from an open window somewhere. What life here?

It's the same lostness she returns to. A mother alone with her son in LA, after breaking up with the father, wanders and ruminates. What it says about Varda's marriage to Demy is a guess, but it matters I think that she presents on screen a grieving woman alone with her son.

It's Varda's own son actually, the French woman a surrogate for Varda, a way for her to have a body in the stream of images.

We can glean more about the 'real' Varda in other ways, I'm more interested in perceptions and how they give rise to self. It's telling for me here that she gives to herself the role of a typist, typing and retyping pages before a beach, a favorite place for her. Varda could have plainly chosen to portray her as anything, she chose a job where words, expression, have been reduced to a mechanical task without meaning.

In the beginning she ruminates on the meaninglessness of words, how words and images lose meaning, faces look strange, when you're shut out from the life that gives everything its place. Meaning is use linguists would say. It's itself the attitude to find meaning I would add, how you place yourself in things.

It gives an overwhelming sense of melancholy in the end, which is how Varda places herself here, fecund absence, waiting without reproach. Her friend Chris Marker, it reminds of him in spirit, but he also finds bemusement in many small things. She's shut in her own self here, it was probably a time for it. It strikes a simple note. Oh but she's so adept with echo, I've carried it with me for two days now.

This is Varda staring out from that window that time blows through. I'm setting my eyes ahead to a time when she has left this room.

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France | USA


English | French

Release Date:

20 January 1982 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Documenteur See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

Ciné-tamaris See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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