Agnes Varda’s Faces Places Is a Work of Art About Art

Agnes Varda knows the value of a camera. The 89-year-old director was a pioneer of French New Wave filmmaking and has strived to find inventive forms of storytelling throughout her career. In her new documentary Faces Places, Varda teams up with the enigmatic photographer and visual artist JR to follow and participate in his Inside Out Project, in which he takes portraits of regular people and pastes the pictures, in gigantic-poster format, onto walls and buildings. The film (in limited release Friday) celebrates community, but for Varda, it’s also personal.

“It’s like a game,” Varda says early on in the documentary, as she helps JR take pictures of French villagers, whose individual portraits are glued in a row to create the illusion of them all holding one long baguette. “JR is fulfilling my greatest desire,” Varda explains. “To meet new faces, and photograph them, so they don’t fall down the holes in my memory.” Faces Places (its original title is the even more whimsical-sounding Visages Villages) is a magnificent work that reckons with art as a global force, a local curiosity, and an individual act of expression. It also sees Varda coming to terms with her own mortality while confronting the deaths, and evolutions, of many French ways of life.

Faces Places is a one-in-a-million crowd-pleaser that deserves to be seen by the widest audience possible. A self-reflective documentary about the artistic process directed by Varda (the grande dame of the politically conscious “Left Bank” of French filmmaking in the 1960s and beyond) may not sound like a movie with broad appeal. But Faces Places is exactly that: an arthouse triumph that speaks to so many universal concerns in wonderfully iconoclastic fashion, while telling its subjects’ stories with compassion.

Just the sight of Varda and JR together in Faces Places is delightful. Varda, with her trademark two-tone hairstyle, stands a good foot shorter than her spindly companion, an inscrutable artiste who’s always (to Varda’s amusement) hiding behind his sunglasses. Nearing 90, Varda is sifting through her memories of the towns they visit, whether her connections to them are deeply meaningful or essentially random. JR is presenting himself more as a conduit, driving a large truck that doubles as a poster-maker: Simply step inside, pose for a picture, and the truck will print you a six-foot photo to stick wherever you’d like.

JR has traveled all over the world for the Inside Out

Source:: <a href= target="_blank" title="Agnes Varda's Faces Places Is a Work of Art About Art” >The Atlantic – Culture

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