Jacquot Demy is a little boy at the end of the thirties. His father owns a garage and his mother is a hairdresser. The whole family lives happily and likes to sing and to go to the movies. ... See full summary »
What does being a woman really mean? How do women live the status society reserves for them? A group of women, beautiful or not, young or not, gifted with motherly instinct or not, answer before Agnès Varda's camera.
An attitude of aware involvement is what Varda bestows in her sixth decade making movies. It's this attitude being celebrated here, an addendum to her Gleaners film which she liked making so much she took her camcorder and went back a couple of years later.
Two things worth gleaning here, both reflections of that attitude.
One is that the first film stirred so many people, she was flooded with letters of appreciation, handmade postcards and gifts of all kinds. There's quiet joy in being able to share in this outpour. Here too we see gleaning and gleaners of another kind, people touched so much by what they saw, they went out to fashion tokens by what they could find around them. Small gifts, but someone pored over them and made them with their hands, reflected in these we see Varda's own film, itself gathered up in the same loving spirit
One of these senders she visits, a smiling young couple in Nantes. The girl seems to have understood Varda's point behind the first film the best and Varda makes it a point to include this tidbit. It was about people getting by she says brightly, managing in spite of everything.
The other thing to glean is that she revisits many of the subjects she interviewed for the first one. Not the fact that she does but the way and how it gives rise to a way of seeing in a larger way. Some are better off, having found unexpected interest in them or a shelter from the cold, others had their share of trouble since. One professes to have given up alcohol (while stinking of wine says Varda), another seems perhaps pleased with the attention. But Varda is not there in any other way than as someone who knows them and wants to see how they are.
This is what Varda's aware presence bestows in turn. She is simply there to see, listen and nudge in a small way but no more. People are allowed to present themselves as they see fit. When she meets the black man who lives off a van cramped with garbage, she asks can you sleep here, he says he can with a smile, she asks do you have water, he does, she asks do you have anywhere to shower, he says there's a shower in the garage where he works, smiling. That's all.
A view of hardship in other words, but seen through Varda's eyes, no one is victimized or pitied, no one allowed to be the center of self- pitying drama or merely the token of societal neglect. I say in other comments that Varda is a wise woman, a sage in her own right; not because she has a particularly intelligent or vehement answer to a question, but because she knows what questions are worth asking.
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