Agnès Varda (France, 1985)
(Sans toit ni loi). Varda created a chilling fiction around the true story of a young woman who froze to death in the south of France, the proverbial land of sunshine. She approaches the story of Mona (Sandrine Bonnaire)—a young dropout with only a backpack and tent to her name, who wanders south for the winter—from the stance of the curious journalist. Thus this film of elegant clarity, while moving, is finally devastating in the crucial distance it takes. We know nothing of Mona’s past; while on the road, she makes the few contacts needed to stay alive and, occasionally, to stay human—a sexual liaison, a laugh over a smoke and a bottle of wine—but no one is allowed in. It is Sandrine Bonnaire’s triumph that we, too, are shut out yet affected by this girl so indifferent to everyone around her. Mona’s soft belligerence is a badge of an uncompromising ideal that can lead only to death; the film is a profound portrait of the will to alienation.
Vagabond is repeated on Friday, April 17.
• Written by Varda. Photographed by Patrick Blossier. With Sandrine Bonnaire, Macha Méril, Stéphane Freiss, Yolande Moreau. (105 mins, In French with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, From Ciné-Tamaris)