Monday, May 04, 2015

La Pointe Courte




Written and directed by Agnes Varda, La Pointe Courte is the story of a couple dealing with unhappiness as they try to salvage the relationship in a small fishing town. The film is a study of marriage and its downside as it is told through the life of a couple as well as various locals in the small fishing town. Starring Philippe Noiret and Silvia Monfort. La Pointe Courte is an enchanting yet hypnotic film from Agnes Varda.

While the film has a narrative that plays into the life of an estranged couple trying to save their marriage by spending a day at the hometown of husband. It’s a film that is more about a place near the Mediterranean in France known as La Pointe Courte and the people that live in this location. While Agnes Varda creates two very different stories within this small town in the span of an entire day as it relates to this estranged couple as well as the people in this town who are living their lives in squalor as they try to make a living. It’s a film that doesn’t have a conventional script though Varda would credit the people in the town as co-writers and co-directors in these different stories that involve all sorts of people ranging from fishermen, a young man courting a 16-year old girl, and a family coping with death.

Varda’s direction is definitely mesmerizing for the way she tells the story as it is infused with a lot of style. Not just in terms of her approach to close-ups and wide shots but also in maintaining something that feels real. Using that approach of cinema verite, Varda captures something that feels very ordinary such as what fishermen do in this small town despite its poor conditions as well as how they manage to find joy later in the day. Varda’s compositions towards the relationship of the couple is quite stylish with its compositions that include a few crane-inspired shots and some tracking shots as well. It plays into something that feels more like traditional cinema as opposed to the more stark yet gritty realism that Varda would show with the real people in the film. Yet Varda manages to find a balance between the two as it plays to a location that is removed from conventional society. Overall, Varda creates an engaging yet riveting film about various people living or vacationing at a small fishing town near the Mediterranean.

Cinematographers Paul Soulignac and Louis Stein do amazing work with the film‘s black-and-white photography to capture not just the gritty realism of the locations and its sense of despair but also into some of the beauty of its parties and beaches. Editor Alain Resnais does excellent work with the editing with its stylish approach to transitions including a transition wipe as well as rhythmic cuts to play into the drama. Sound editor Robert Lion does nice work with the sound to capture the sparseness of the quieter moments along with the raucous moments at the jousting sequence. The film’s music by Pierre Barbaud is amazing as it’s very exuberant and upbeat to play into some of its humor and party atmosphere. Finally, there’s the performances of Pierre Noiret and Silvia Monfort as they bring a sense of restrained yet hypnotic approach to their role as the married couple trying to save their marriage as well as cope with their surroundings.

La Pointe Courte is a phenomenal film from Agnes Varda. It’s a film that manages to mix conventional storytelling with eerie realism as it’s told with such style and poignancy as it is one of key prototypes for what would become the French New Wave. In the end, La Pointe Courte is a ravishing film from Agnes Varda.

© thevoid99 2015

2 comments:

Fisti said...

You keep highlighting Varda and I keep telling myself I need to watch her work, ASAP! This sounds great.

thevoid99 said...

Get her box set at the next Criterion sale at Barnes & Noble in July. It's always 50% off at that time.