Le Pointe-Courte

Le Pointe-Courte. Agnès Varda. 1955.

This is riveting. The cinematography is so gorgeous, I’m almost at a loss for words. The camera shifts between being stationary and roving around, even entering houses and exiting through the back doors in a single, stunning take.

I’m assuming the actors here are all (or almost all) non-professionals; presumably the people who really live at La Pointe-Courte? I’ve never seen such an amiable bunch of rascals: They can barely contain their joy at being in this movie; shyly smiling before they have to deliver their lines, and clearly looking at somebody to tell them when to do something (Varda herself, I’m guessing). It’s just such a pleasant thing to behold.

But there’s two distinct parts: One is pure genius, where we follow the people in the village, fishing and talking and speculating about whether the health authorities are going to allow them to sell their… cockles?… or not. It’s so interesting. And there’s cats in every other shot!

The other half consists of very stylised scenes of two people discussing their marriage, and it’s filmed in a very different style:

See? It’s super-stylised and kinda interesting, but whenever these scenes started I was going “but I wanted to watch the other people. Did they get the bacterial cockle situation sorted or what?” But instead it’s these two people talking about whether they love each other or whether they love their love.

They had a lot of fun with the cinematography in these scenes, ending up with shots that wouldn’t have been out of place in Bergman movies made a decade later, so Varda is totally ahead of the curve.

The movie has been beautifully restored on this 2K release.

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