Faces Places



Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 99%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 90%
IMDb Rating 7.9 10 6040


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April 09, 2018 at 02:21 AM



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1hr 34 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by The Couchpotatoes 6 / 10

It could have used more visual scenes

I'll be the first to support a documentary about out of the norm artists like J.R. The combination of the young photographer/muralist and the older director Agnès Varda, travelling through France looking for perfect spots and faces to express their art, worked well. Each has their own vision of things and together they bring something out of the ordinary. The shots were interesting to watch, I could have had more. The minor point were the conversations they had with eachother. Not that it was not interesting to hear, but it all sounded like they were reading it straight from a script than having a normal conversation about everything and nothing. That was the only thing that made me not appreciate this documentary more. But in the end it's more about the visual aspect and that was good. Good enough to watch once.

Reviewed by proud_luddite 7 / 10

Varda a charm as always

Director Agnès Varda co-stars and co-directs a documentary with photographer/artist JR. The two travel together to various locations in rural France, meet various locals, and arrange to have some locals' photographs enlarged and pasted on houses and buildings. Aspects of each of the pair's personal lives are also explored.

At the age of eighty-nine, it is a victory that Varda is still living well let alone still making movies let alone still making movies of high quality.

The project of this unlikely pair is very unique and engaging. Not only do they show great differences in height and size; they are two generations apart.

As the structure of the film's episodes is similar, there is an occasional feeling of repetition but this is slight as the various people have different stories. The people involved are average folks of working-class background. It's a noble attribute to put the spotlight on those considered "ordinary" who still exude a certain charm with their modesty.

The movie's final segments are the best as they focus on the starring couple. JR's 100-year-old grandmother, like the movie's other subjects, exudes a modest charm that is heart-warming. Varda's recall of the people of her past is intriguing as well as moving especially when she slips out her thoughts on mortality.

The final scene is truly a grand finale as it culminates so much especially the bonding of JR and Varda. Without revealing too much (only to say that it involves another French cinema legend), it easily takes in the viewer with that most familiar of emotions: disappointment. It also reminds one of how new disappointments sadly make one recall old ones.

There are many directors who direct themselves for movies but in nearly all cases, those films are fictional. In directing herself in documentaries (other fine ones include "The Gleaners and I" (2000) and "The Beaches of Agnès (2008)), Varda shows not only courage in revealing in what most international cinema legends would want to keep private, she also gives viewers yet another delightful documentary subject: herself. And JR too, of course.

Reviewed by Howard Schumann 9 / 10

A life-affirming meditation on friendship, art, and mortality

89-year-old filmmaker Agnès Varda ("The Beaches of Agnès") said, "I have a nice relationship with time, because the past is here, you know? I've spent time, if I have something of my past, I'll just make it, nowadays, I make it now and here." Varda makes both past and present come alive in Faces Places (Visages Villages), 89-year-old filmmaker Agnès Varda ("The Beaches of Agnès") said, "I have a nice relationship with time, because the past is here, you know? I've spent time, if I have something of my past, I'll just make it, nowadays, I make it now and here." Varda makes both past and present come alive in Faces Places (Visages Villages), a life-affirming meditation on friendship, art, and mortality. Co-directed by JR ("Women are Heroes"), a 33-year-old hip French graffiti artist and photographer whom the director met in 2015, Varda and her companion make an unlikely couple. She stands out with her two-toned hair and diminutive stature and JR does a convincing Jean-Luc Godard ("Goodbye to Language") impersonation with his black fedora hat and dark sunglasses which Varda teases him about the entire film.

Both live life on the edges and do not live by the rules. "Chance has always been my best assistant," she says. Driving without any particular destination, they crisscross the French countryside in JR's van decorated to resemble a camera with a large lens on one of its sides. The travelers meet and take pictures of villagers, workers, and townspeople whom they immortalize with gigantic black and white portraits plastered on the sides of walls, old houses, container cargo, trains, and other objects. Playfully, Varda describes it like this, "We ended up with huge images of them after I made them express themselves. So it's a real documentary because we are careful about what they are, what they want to say. But also, we play our game, as being artists, making strange images or enjoying that people we meet becomes actors of our dreams."

The people they meet are former miners, waitresses, plant safety workers, truck drivers, and dockworkers and their wives in Le Havre. By himself on his 2,000 acre farm, a man laments the passing of the social aspects of farming, recalling how it was when three or four workers were always there for companionship. In other vignettes, a man and his son are responsible for ringing the church bell in a small village and farmers enjoy hand-milking horned goats, regretting that others cut off the goats' horns and do their milking with machines.Varda and JR also travel to an abandoned village which is suddenly filled with arriving well-wishers. They go to the Brittany seaside where she remembers the photographs she took of a young friend and fellow photographer during the mid-1950s, pasting an image of him reclining against a beach hut on a German bunker and telling JR how peaceful he looks resting there.

The slow pace of travel allows Agnès to confront other memories from her past, including a visit to a small cemetery where photographers Henri Cartier-Bresson and Martine Franck are buried. After visiting JRs 100-year-old grandmother, JR asks her if she is afraid of dying. Varda answers in the negative. "That'll be that," she says." Reflecting on her relationship with the great director Jean-Luc-Godard, she recalls the time she spent with him, his then wife Anna Karina, and Varda's late husband, director Jacques Demy ("The Umbrellas of Cherbourg"). Agnès and her friend then travel to Switzerland to meet with Godard, bringing the director a gift of his favorite pastry but he is not home. Unfortunately, their only communication is an enigmatic message left on his window pane. In her only sense of irritation in the film, Varda uncharacteristically expresses deep feelings of hurt.

Faces Places is a quiet celebration of what is most important in life, simple pleasures of companionship and collaboration, of art made real and accessible, and of the divine in the commonplace. Varda said it best, "I know that the seaside represents the whole world", she remarked, "the sky, the ocean, and the earth, the sand. And it's like expressing where is the world. It's about a calm sea, a calm ocean, just a very, very discreet wave ending on the sand. And that's a landscape that touches me a lot. But I know that also people feel that, too." It is hard not to be touched by her presence.

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