Synopsis: In this autobiographical documentary, stories from filmmaker Agnès Varda's "childhood in Brussels and adolescence in occupied Paris, of Los Angeles in the ‘60s, and of life in her 14e arrondissement Paris neighborhood are melded with clips from both documentary and fiction work. Husband/filmmaker Jacques Demy, who died in 1990, is an abiding presence. Varda is an avid collector: of people and places, sensual experiences and intellectual preoccupations, personal commitments and political principles. She is a mother and wife, a feminist, nature-lover and urban-dwelling artist. Above all, she is a woman in love with the cinema whose new movie perfectly expresses her sentiment, 'While I live, I remember.'" [Synopsis courtesy of Film Forum]
Round-up: It is probably the case that the degree to which you believe Agnès Varda is one of the most important documentarians is the degree to which you will enjoy "The Beaches of Agnès." In Film Journal International, Maria Garcia is unaffected. She says, "The Beaches of Agnès is a documentary meant for Varda’s children and for her biographers, for those who puzzle through her masterpieces—not for us gleaners." Clearly an admirer, Manohla Dargis gushes in the New York Times, "The images are as delightful, unexpected and playfully uninhibited as Ms. Varda, perhaps the only filmmaker who has both won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and strolled around an art exhibition while costumed as a potato (not at the same time)." Not quite as laudatory is Screen International's Dan Fainaru, who describes "Beaches" as "[a] film that puts the personal ahead of the professional and suggests Varda didn’t encounter hardship and pain until the Demy’s death, it will find a happy home at festivals, film events and cultural TV channels." In the Village Voice, J. Hoberman argues, "Varda has done for herself what she did for [her husband Jacques] Demy [in a 90s film on his works]—creating a work, as charming as it is touching, that serves to explicate and enrich an entire oeuvre."