A portrait of actress Jane Birkin.
A portrait of actress Jane Birkin.
Agnès Varda likes daydreams, not psychology. Her movies jump not from one thing to the next but from one thing to a next, always opening, never closing. One film, a documentary made of fictional parts (Jane B. par Agnès V.), leads to another, a fiction made of documentary (Kung-fu Master!), starring Jane Birkin's daughters, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon, and Varda's son, Mathieu Demy.
Birkin said she wanted “to make a feature film about how I really am: jeans, old sweaters, messy hair, barefoot in my garden. Just once, I'd like to forget wigs and pretty costumes. I’d like to be filmed as if I were transparent, anonymous, like everyone else.” So Agnès Varda made that movie. Where there's creativity without agony, there's people living in front of a camera.
Agnès Varda turns a film on life into a life on film.
Throw me in movie jail! This is my first Agnes Varda movie.
I like her keen eye for framing, though, particularly the slow dolly shots from left to right, use of color (the red, white, and blacks in that Spanish dancer scene!), and incorporation of reflections and animals in weird glass cages. My favorite scene featured Birkin dancing in front of a wall of segmented mirrors while figures in solid colored unitards flitted in and out of her reflection as the camera pivoted to reveal new dancers and even a film crew. The capper? The camera pushes in on Birkin until the other mirrors leave the frame and her multiple reflections unify into one. SO GOOD!
The movie dragged a…
Patience, courage, and the strength to meet your own gaze in the mirror.
Witness the birth of an altogether other film as this unfolds before your eyes.
More daydream elision than documentary portrait. A quite curious blend of fantasy and non-fiction, bridged in equal measure by sound, dialogue, and ideas. Faults, scars, and fraying edges wholly define its considerable beauty. Less girl than boy, but not quite a boy either; an androgyne prince. Not quite the cumulative wallop of LIONS LOVE, but yet more proof of AV's mastery of the audio and visual. Lots to love here, as doors open / close on new worlds.
Jane Birkin is a person I admire not only as an artist but as a human being. I shared my love of this film by Agnès Varda with those who also respect Jane Birkin on this level. I had the honor of meeting Jane seven years ago, and have a beautiful conversation with her and she is everything and more than this film portrays. Of course, some of the sequences are rather odd, but I really enjoyed seeing some of her photos from her past and a little more insight on the person she is along with some great scenes of Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon.
"Birkin calls for more authenticity, and Varda responds with more artifice. But what the director most allows is her actress to speak. Even when slow-dancing alongside a 20-sided hall of mirrors, Birkin slowly confesses to her dreams as Varda pushes the camera in, forming a single image. It’s a crucial moment in a film in which every bit of the documentary feels supremely crafted, but it’s all for showing the authentic romance at its center as two artists collaborate in harmony through their pushing and pulling."
The list of good biopics is about 25 out of like a billion. It includes the Farrah Fawcett-starring Diane Downs-odyssey Small Sacrificies and doesn’t include any by-the-numbers, Oscar-bait bullshit we see year after year after year.
Most standard biographical documentaries aren’t great either. Ones I often do enjoy, many of which I am forgiving, but rarely do I consider exceptional.
Jane B. par Agnès V. is exceptional. The film is somewhat unclassifiable in its many approaches, genres, styles, and ideas. At its core, it’s a successful (and beautiful) portrait of the subject, but even better, it’s a really fun, exciting marathon of experimental exercises for both artists.
I greatly admire Varda’s confidence when she says, “I like mazes,” regarding the…
Filmoteca de Valencia 🎞 Ciclo "Agnès Varda, la mirada libre"
A profile of Birkin that gives a biography and a set of vignettes for her to star in. Filled with commentary on the film itself by Birkin and Varda, it's fun and complicated and deeply interconnected. I always love Agnes Varda's approach to just about any topic.
Phenomenal. Give me artifice and self-awareness over verisimilitude any day.
Varda is still the GOAT.
no doubt i'm an uncultured boor & know nothing about anything, but i found this to be boring & pointless & not worth watching. a few funny moments, some weird flights of fancy here & there sparked my interest, but in general i didn't care about any of the stories she told. she didn't talk about anything i found interesting. she may have been getting at things that were interesting to her, but they didn't engage me.
Agnes: Exactly. I'm filming your self-portrait. But you won't be alone in the mirror: There'll be the camera (it's a bit me). Too bad if I should appear in the mirror or the background.
Jane: Ok, I'll look at you, not the camera. It could be a trap.
Agnes: I don't want to trap you, to corner you. But a film shows 24 portraits per second, or per hour. You must play by the rules.
This, I think, is what love is: devoted attention and a caring eye. Every Varda film I watch makes me fall more deeply in love with film itself.
A jigsaw puzzle of a docudrama that juxtaposes interviews with a turning 40 Jane Birkin and dramatic vignettes of her playing roles she's always wanted to. It's an interesting examination of herself, feminism, celebrity and film culture.
Has probably the sexiest shot in all of cinema.
Varda takes a reliably idiosyncratic approach to the portrait of an artist with this playfully inventive twist on the form which allows Birkin to remain at a safe distance from the audience and Varda to expand on the themes expressed in Berkin's interviews with inventive fantasy sequences and creative imagery that lightens the tone and adds an engaging meta-reflexive level to the reflections on aging, love, gender, family. These sequences explore the variety of images and roles open to Birkin, from situating her within a crime story to posing her in classically infleunced tableux or mimicking Laurel & Hardy, in parallel to the frutstration and uncertainity at the limited roles availble to her or the constrictive public image she expresses in…
Agnès!!!! Jane!!!! ❤️❤️❤️