Monday, November 09, 2015

Le Bonheur



Written and directed by Agnes Varda, Le Bonheur (Happiness) is the story of a married man and father who finds himself falling for a young postal worker. The film is an exploration into the world of happiness in marriage but also the concept of fidelity in a world that is often demanding. Starring Jean-Claude Druout, Claire Druout, and Marie-Francoise Boyer. Le Bonheur is an exquisitely touching and ravishing film from Agnes Varda.

The film is a simple story of a married family man who falls for a young postal worker where he tries to balance his life without any compromise as well as express his love for two women. It’s a film that plays into a man who doesn’t want to destroy his marriage nor does he want to be miserable as it’s just about him being happy. Even as his lover understands the situation as she knows when to stay away and not intrude on his family life though there’s moments in social gatherings where the two women collide but only the wife has no idea what is going on. Agnes Varda’s screenplay doesn’t have much of a plot as it’s more about the study of a carpenter who is in love with two women where he doesn’t try to hide it from anything or anyone. At the same time, he is just going for the pursuit of happiness without all of these moral implications nor any judgment while being good towards the people in his family.

Varda’s direction is very intoxicating not just for the way she captures the life of a small-town carpenter with two young kids and a beautiful wife but also in how he finds an equal amount of happiness with this young postal worker who had moved into town. While there is an intimacy to the direction as well as some stylish close-ups, Varda does play off the film’s simplistic tone while creating some gorgeous imagery of Francois (Jean-Claude Druout) and Therese (Claire Druout) walking around the country and near the ponds and rivers. It plays into this serenity into what Francois wants as his encounter with Emilie (Marie-Francoise Boyer) during a call to a client would raise questions into what he wants.

While the story is driven by Francois and his pursuits, Varda does make sure the women have something to say where it has an air of feminism that isn’t overt nor under-written. Even as it plays to events near the final twenty-five minutes of the film as it relates to what Francois wants and how someone like a woman can be helpful to him in a time of need. Overall, Varda creates a very touching and mesmerizing film about a man who is in love with two women.

Cinematographers Jean Rabier and Claude Beausoleil do incredible work with the film‘s very colorful and evocative cinematography to capture the beauty of the countryside in its naturalistic look to the vibrant colors that are in display for many of the places in the small town. Editor Janine Verneau does fantastic work with the editing with its usage of jump-cuts and other stylish cuts to play into its drama and romance. Production designer Hubert Monloup does nice work with the set pieces from the home that Francois and Therese lives in to the apartment that Emilie would live in with the shelves that Francois built for her.

Costume designer Claude Francois does excellent work with the costumes as it plays to the look of the town and the countryside in its mid-60s look. The sound work of Louis Hochet is terrific for its natural approach to sound to play into the atmosphere of the parties and gathering that is going on. The film’s music by Jean-Michel Defaye is wonderful for its serene and somber orchestral score that plays into the sense of joy while the soundtrack would feature music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to help play into that sense of joy.

The film’s brilliant cast include appearances from Olivier and Sandrine Druout as Francois and Therese’s children. Marie-Francoise Boyer is amazing as Emilie as a young woman who just moved into town as she had met Francois in another town where the two fall for each other while knowing when to not intrude in his family life. Claire Druout is superb as Therese as a kind housewife who makes dresses for a living as she ponders the source of her husband’s sudden happy persona. Finally, there’s Jean-Claude Druout in an excellent performance as Francois as a carpenter with a family who falls for Emilie as he also loves his wife where he tries to balance both relationships and ponder if he could have it all.

Le Bonheur is a remarkable film from Agnes Varda. With a great cast, beautiful images, and a compelling story, it’s a film that doesn’t play into any rules of what love can be nor is it willing to make any judgment on the decisions of one man. In the end, Le Bonheur is a phenomenal film from Agnes Varda.

© thevoid99 2015

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