TO LIVE AND DIE IN FRANCE
wdanthemanw | Geneva, Switzerland | 10/23/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After CLEO FROM 5 TO 7, Criterion released a few weeks ago another movie of french director Agnès Varda : VAGABOND. The original title of the movie is SANS TOIT NI LOI which could have been translated WITHOUT ROOF NOR LAW. I don't know whether this last translation makes any sense in english but it sure does in french emphasizing the rebellious side of Sandrine Bonnaire's character.Still at the beginning of her career, Sandrine Bonnaire gives here a performance that deserves the utmost respect. Surrounded by semi professionals or amateurs, she brings Mona to life and death in a stellar performance. Of course, first you have to accept Agnès Varda's style, a mixture of (false) documentary and fiction.VAGABOND is the anti-romantic movie by essence. The glorious nature so often depicted by writers and the postcards sent by your lucky friends is replaced by an hostile environment made of mud or frozen water. Sandrine Bonnaire is not wandering through France for fun, she's not heading to the southern part of France in a symbolic search for hope. She just wants to be free and alone. She's the last rebel.No extra-features with this Criterion release except for english subtitles. Great sound and images which will plunge you deep into the sadness of a cold winter.A - no hope - DVD."
valeska_ | The Pacific Northwest | 09/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The film opens on the scene of a bare vineyard, it's winter, and a worker is collecting vines off the ground after pruning. He suddenly comes upon a woman, sprawled dead in the frost covered ditch, nothing but an old dirty blanket on her back. Her face is contorted with pain from the cold she suffered. Her hair looks almost gray from being frozen.
The police come to investigate, she's got no identification with her.
But as the film progresses we learn her name is Mona, short for Simone. In flash backs we see her traveling like a leaf on the wind, never staying in one place for too long, hitching rides, and pitching her tent. Bumming cigarettes, and getting water and bread (sometimes dope) from kind strangers, a few she gets to know, but they never really figure out who she is. But, they agree as they talk to the camera, she's someone they'll never forget. The film takes place during winter, Mona says she likes to travel then because there aren't that many people out, and it's easier to get a ride. Those who she meets, are mostly good, but some bad. She experiences the perils of a young woman traveling alone. Hunger, cold, rape... She isn't a naive street urchin, but a gritty character, tough and defiant. I found Mona, so endearing and painfully haunting. I became more and more sad, to know she had died. And when that tragic moment came, I couldn't help but cry a little. Sandrine Bonnaire made her seem so real. And I love how the movie was shot. Told in flashbacks, by the people who had known her, however briefly. They speak directly to the camera. A very powerful film, very poignant and absolutely haunting.Filmed in Nimes, France. In the stark landscape of mid-winter. Anges Varda's masterpiece. Sandrine Bonnaire won the Cesar award for best actress. Even though it's sad and ends (and begins) with tragedy, I am definitely going watch it again.This film deserves no less than five stars!"
From the Mother of New Wave
Laurentian University c/o Hoi Cheu | Sudbury, Ontario Canada | 08/26/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"An impressive piece! This film was made by the woman who was one of the first pioneers in the 50s to invent the techniques now widely used in "New Wave", "Dogma 95" and "Cinema Verite".... With a deeply moving tale and powerful shots, this film makes the Blair Witch Project looks boring and uninnovative. The DVD transfer is at the best quality, and the package gives helpful and stimulating information to viewers who are unfamiliar with Varda's works."
Freedoms just another word for nothing left to loose
Yumi | LA CA USA | 06/12/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Sandrine Bonnaire is flawless in her performance. This movie will haunt you whenever you have the urge to chuck it all and hit the road."