The Gleaners and I (2001)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Gleaners and I Videos & Photos

Movie Info

Both a diary and a kind of extended essay on poverty, thrift and the curious place of scavenging in French history and culture--a documentary capturing the world of French gleaners who collect and make use of what others have discarded.

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Documentary, Drama, Art House & International, Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By: Agnès Varda
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jul 23, 2002
Zeitgeist Films - Official Site

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Critic Reviews for The Gleaners and I

All Critics (43) | Top Critics (16)

[A] lyrically ramshackle essay about people, including Varda herself, who don't fit into society's cubbyholes.

Full Review… | September 26, 2002
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

The Gleaners and I is a film well worth finding.

Full Review… | February 21, 2002
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic

Charged with the pleasure of discovery.

Full Review… | December 17, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

For the most part, Varda's home movie is a simple and sweet thing.

Full Review… | June 27, 2001
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

Varda's subject matter is surprisingly rich, but it's her own energetic, curious nature that gives the film its snap.

Full Review… | June 11, 2001
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

In its frames, we see [Varda's] empathy, skill, curiosity, wit, poetry and passion for life: everything she has gleaned from a lifetime of love and movies.

Full Review… | May 12, 2001
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Gleaners and I

a lovely documentary/road movie on the theme of recycling society's castoffs. director varda travels france examining the lifestyle, from the ancient custom of gleaning the fields after harvest to modern 'freegans' and artists using salvaged junk. fascinating characters, not least the filmmaker herself, who sees her art as gleaning images from everyday life

Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer


This lovely, whimsical documentary is director Agnes Varda's tribute to the quaint practice of "gleaning" -- sifting through others' harvested farmland for leftover fruits and vegetables. This gentle foraging is not stigmatized like digging through trash (in fact, it's often presented as a commendable effort to cut ecological waste) and almost all of the interviewed gleaners are surprisingly clean and articulate. Many farmers even accept the gleaners, and merely set up some light rules for their trespassing.

"The Gleaners and I" is somewhat unfocused, especially considering it's only 82 minutes, and has quirky personal insertions that could be labeled self-indulgent. Varda not only narrates but intermittently appears onscreen, observing her body's aging, phantom-pinching trucks that she passes on the highway (shades of the Kids in the Hall's "I'm crushing your head" bit) and showing trivial lens-cap footage shot by accident. But such tangents are central to the film's homespun charm. She also becomes seduced by the gleaning concept herself, and gradually accumulates some chairs, figs, heart-shaped potatoes and a broken clock. "A clock without hands is my kind of thing," she smiles. "You don't see time passing."

Eventually, she introduces city settings and broadens her scope. We see people who search for appliances, turn trash into artwork and live off found food. One of them has a Masters degree. Some legal aspects are explored, and there's also discussion of gleaning as depicted in paintings. Varda seems to just spontaneously follow the story wherever it leads her. It's a warm introduction to a peculiar, less-known corner of French culture.

Eric Broome
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

Agnes Varda brings forward a very interesting documentary on the tradition of gleaning or picking up discarded food that wasn't brought by farmers to food distributors. It is a practice that is practical in terms of supplementing the food sources for the working poor and a good lesson in how to avoid waste.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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