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The Gleaners and I (2001)



Average Rating: 7.9/10
Critic Reviews: 13
Fresh: 13 | Rotten: 0

No consensus yet.



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Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 2,282

My Rating

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.

Jul 23, 2002

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All Critics (43) | Top Critics (16) | Fresh (35) | Rotten (3) | DVD (4)

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

September 26, 2002 Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Gleaners and I is a film well worth finding.

February 21, 2002 Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News
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Charged with the pleasure of discovery.

December 17, 2001 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

June 27, 2001 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

June 11, 2001 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop 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.

May 12, 2001 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Varda is, herself, a gleaner. Her eyes are her tools, and her camera is her basket. Insatiably curious, she seeks, finds, redeems. ... When we pay attention, attention pays.

November 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Looking Closer
Looking Closer

A tribute to all the people who think outside the box.

March 24, 2010 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

A moving humanist/social conscience documentary.

September 12, 2009 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

strings together observations about psychotherapy, freeway traffic and the origins of cinema while opening our eyes to a subculture few of us ever think about.

September 28, 2005 Full Review Source: Kalamazoo Gazette
Kalamazoo Gazette

Visually brilliant inside look at the world of food production.

December 13, 2004 Full Review Source: Classic Film and Television
Classic Film and Television

A pleasure to watch - part documentary, part personal essay, part unguided tour. It's a chance to understand ourselves differently by seeing the things we choose not to use.

March 11, 2003 Full Review Source: Offoffoff

The Gleaners and I shows Varda in full flower, ever reaping what she has sown.

March 10, 2003 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

However rudimentary her thesis on the subject is, Varda is able to explore her interest, pass it on to the viewer and still give them something to learn about.

October 14, 2002 Full Review Source:

A bewitching documentary that mischievously fuses the past with the present, the rich with the poor, the idle with workaholic

July 18, 2002 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Varda draws a neat parallel between the collective urge and her own career in filmmaking.

May 31, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Experience
Film Experience

Agnes Varda finds that one man's trash is literally another man's treasure in her highly personal The Gleaners and I.

February 26, 2002 Full Review Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press
St. Paul Pioneer Press

The Gleaners and I is an exceptional, accomplished documentary that serves as a striking example of 'found cinema.'

August 2, 2001 Full Review Source: eye WEEKLY

It not only informs and educates, it enlightens, and does all this with supreme enchantment and poetry.

June 11, 2001
San Francisco Examiner

[I]t not only informs and educates, it enlightens, and does all this with a supreme enchantment and poetry.

June 11, 2001 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

A funny sequence gets as many interpretations of the law that governs the gleaning around oyster beds as people providing them.

May 23, 2001 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

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
July 6, 2010
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.
March 17, 2011
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.
January 9, 2012
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

French rambling shaggy-dog documentary about a) people who collect what others have left or dumped, and b) Agnes Varda, the filmmaker. Best watched if, as I was, you're equally happy spending time with both.

June 27, 2011
Lesley N

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Die Sammler und die Sammlerin (DE)
  • The Gleaners and I (Les Glaneurs et la Glaneuse) (UK)
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