Agnès Varda turned 90 - a look at her five best films
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After Agnès Varda's 90th birthday, we look back at the French director's five best films. 1. Clèo from 5 to 7 (Cléo de 5 à 7, 1962) Varda’s debut La Pointe Courte (1955) garnered critical praise, but it was her second feature that crowned her the ‘grandmother of the French New Wave’ – a someone dubious title, given Varda was not yet 40 when she made the film. The film follows pampered pop singer Cléo (Corinne Marchand) as she makes her way through Paris, awaiting the results of a medical test she fears will confirm stomach cancer, and the profound transformation of perspective she undergoes. A stylish portrait of Paris and a perceptive character study, Cléo from 5 to 7 blends French New Wave cool with Varda’s interest in gender, offering a dissection of the male gaze over ten years before Laura Mulvey would famously write about it. Truly one of the great films. 2. Le Bonheur (1965) Controversial on release, with critics labelling its vision of a disposable wife as anti-feminist, Le Bonheur has now been reappraised as a masterwork of seething irony. The plot concerns a young suburban couple, François and Therese, and their two children. François takes a mistress, and continues to live in a state of untainted happiness even as tragic events inevitably unfold. A deceptively dark tale of male entitlement sarcastically seeped in warm primary colours, Le Bonheur is Varda at her most astute and scathing.
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