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Sans Toit ni Loi (Vagabond) (Without Roof or Rule) Reviews

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Jan Marc M

Super Reviewer

September 22, 2011
Pursuing the roads for purpose, meaning, and acceptance. A subjective examination of a pernicious interpretation of freedom, Vagabond is an Agnès Varda character examination that simply observes and appreciates, mostly dependent on the outstanding performance of a young Sandrine Bonnaire as Mona Bergeron. Outstanding.

Super Reviewer

June 22, 2009
it's a beautiful film, perhaps a little too poetic in it's view of homelessness. definite tones of' 'into the wild' in other characters' envy of the heroine's freedom. i loved how varda framed shots but was a little annoyed at characters breaking the fourth wall. sandrine bonnaire is excellent, well worth a watch
Cindy I

Super Reviewer

July 20, 2010
A teenage girl is found frozen to death in a ditch on a winter morning in rural France. Through flashbacks and interviews, the rest of the film shows the audience how she got there. It's not a happy or pretty story, but it's a story worth experiencing.

The film follows this young woman, named Simone "Mona" Bergeron, as she travels on foot across Southern France. We watch as she encounters others such as herself, and others who are not like her at all. She drinks too much, uses drugs, has sex seemingly indiscriminately, seems to have no goals or plans other than life on the road. She reveals a few desires along the way, such as wanting to have a potato farm and wanting a relationship with someone, but when both opportunities present themselves, she does not make use of them. We are never told any more about her, where she is from, if she is running away or running to, and from or to what. The people who knew her along the way discuss her only in the barest of details, in that they don't know any more than we do about her. There are several scenes of people judging Mona based on her outward appearance. Yes, they are correct in some instances, but somehow they still come across as clods for thinking that way.

I've always found Southern France to be beautiful, with its quaint towns, wide fields of lavender, grapes and sunflowers, and fountains. However, in director Agnes Varda's hands, this open landscape turns into something desolate and unfriendly, cold to all but the most privileged of its citizens, but yet still beautiful. It is very much a metaphor for Mona's life.
With the exception of a few characters -- Madame Landier the agronomist, Yolande, Jean-Pierre and his delightful old aunt Lydie -- only Mona is given any real screen time. Sandrine Bonnaire won a Cesar (the French Academy Award) for her portrayal of this down-and-out young woman. She was only 18 at the time, and she does a wonderful job of making Mona both sympathetic and distasteful -- we are told she smells bad, she is lazy and rarely it seems that she appreciates the things people do to help her. But yet you still want her to succeed, even though we know from the very beginning that she won't. Bonnaire resembles a young brunette Jeanne Moreau, so much so that I researched to see if there was any familial connection (I didn't find anything.)

You might want to save this film for another time if you are feeling in any way down or lonely. But don't forget about it. You may be saddened, but you won't be disappointed.

Super Reviewer

May 11, 2008
An interesting French film, one that is in many ways meant as an answer to Citizen Kane. Like Kane, the film begins with the central character?s death and then tells that person?s life story through flashbacks remembered by various people she met. The difference is that instead of telling the story of a millionaire it tells the story of a homeless woman. Of course, this isn?t anywhere near as great as Citizen Kane, but it is an interesting take on that film?s format. The things that happen to the vagabond are not spectacularly interesting in and of themselves, but they form an interesting portrait. The ultimate irony, is that in many ways this vagabond is much happier when she dies than Charles Foster Kane could have ever dreamed to be.
May 12, 2010
An uplifting slice of life story, and by uplifting I mean dank, dirty and not in any way, shape or form uplifting. Mona Bergeron apparently just didn't like working as a secretary, so she chose a life of wandering around rolling in mud and getting raped.
March 31, 2014
What drew me in were the questions the film provokes.
Who is this strange woman we are following? Is she destitute or is she free?
Is this film a pseudo-documentary or a radical re-imaging of Citizen Kane?
The film never answers these questions & that's why it lingered with me
December 29, 2013
Sem Teto, Nem Lei utiliza um estrutura de falso documentário e flasbacks para contar a história de uma garota que vivia na rua. O filme traz uma ótima direção de Agnès Varda e uma boa atuação naturalista de Sandrine Bonnaire.
August 30, 2012
I find it difficult to write about "Vagabond." The title character Mona is cinematically brought back to life from a gruesome scene of her dead frozen body lying in a ditch by jumping back two weeks in time. But Mona isn't really a person you get to know. In the two elliptical weeks we know her for, we aren't given any real concrete answers as to why she is alone, homeless, or why she prefers things this way. As people meet her they ask similar questions, to which she just indifferently replies with affirmations of their expectations, "'sure', that's what you want to hear, right?" Her character is so indifferent to the inquiries made by others that, as an audience, we can't help but feel her indifference is also directed toward us.

So what's it about then? What makes "Vagabond" worth while? Well, this is why I find writing about "Vagabond" difficult. Agnes Varda didn't give me much to grasp onto in her film regardless of my efforts. I feel that if I was filmed while viewing "Vagabond," an outside viewer would have a more firm grasp on who I am as person than I ever did about Mona. Yet, Mona really leaves an impression that I still want to place. Perhaps this sense of confusion is what "Vagabond" is ultimately about? The film is a murder mystery after all. Sure, we know right from the start how Mona died, we know it wasn't murder committed by anyone specific and we know the lifestyle, which lead to her end, was her choice. But this doesn't stop us from asking why she died. What gave her the drive to stick to this hard lifestyle avoiding offers of a stable, safe, life? Varda never gives an answer but she did give me something....

The final moments of Vagabond are exactly what you would expect. We see Mona, her movements are slow and stiff, she's wrapped in a small blanket, I swear I can hear her teeth clatter while she shuffles her feet across the hard ground of the frozen vineyard. Mona falls, her limbs are so frozen that she can't even lift herself. There isn't a hint of regret or fear on her face, she has no words of wisdom, she's far from a vague utterance of "rosebud." Mona dies just like she lived, in the moment. I can't think of another death in film that has effected me so, I want so badly to pull Mona out of that ditch, yes, I know how stupid that sounds. Then I realize every person Mona comes across attempts to pull her out of that ditch, but unlike her halfhearted answers to personal inquiries, and human relationships, that ditch is the only truth we will ever know of Mona.
July 29, 2012
Telling the story of Mona, a woman doomed to an early grave because of the extreme form of freedom she embraces, Varda's astonishing work is poignant from start to finish.
July 15, 2012
Truly a difficult film to like as the protagonist of this harsh character study acts as an antagonist from start to tragic finish. There's so little to like about this gal; however, there is something quite mesmerizing knowing that Ms. Bonnaire is merely an "actress" portraying the character Mona. You'd think you were actually viewing this as a documentary of one person's tragedy! The opening scenes pretty much set the stage for this bleak tale; nevertheless, to see how this person ended up as shown at the start is quite fascinating. I think we all may have known (or encountered) a person such as she in our self-contained lives....
Jan Marc M

Super Reviewer

September 22, 2011
Pursuing the roads for purpose, meaning, and acceptance. A subjective examination of a pernicious interpretation of freedom, Vagabond is an Agnès Varda character examination that simply observes and appreciates, mostly dependent on the outstanding performance of a young Sandrine Bonnaire as Mona Bergeron. Outstanding.
Elena D.
May 1, 2011
Very stylistic but extremely difficult to watch. I respect the film but that does not mean I enjoyed it, or feel the need to watch it again.
October 15, 2006
Vagabond AKA without Roof or Rule (1985) {Agnes Varda}
100/100%:fresh: :fresh:
my new favorite movie, Vagabond is a beatiful tale of a woman, a woman who's world I'm drawn in to and I come to adore, its a potent film for damn sure.
Less Than Zero
April 27, 2004

[font=Arial]House of Sand and Fog (dir. Vadim Perelman, 2003) -- Damn, was this depressing. I expected much more out of this flick than I got... I can't quite put my finger on it. It just lacked this element to push it beyond being a solid drama. It's all well and good, yes, but it never really [i]gripped[/i] me to any real extent. I wish I could figure it out. I'm guessing though that it's more something to do with me than it is with the film. Nonetheless, very well made and good performances all around.[/font]
[font=Arial]A Mighty Wind (dir. Christopher Guest, 2003) -- I friggin' love Eugene Levy. There could be a movie of just him sitting in a chair, I'd laugh. Nonetheless, this one is a pretty solid folk music mockumentary. I'm not a huge Guest fan but still have some films to get to on him. Pretty funny, although I guess it just seems like some of the laughs take a bit too much effort to get. Still, there are too many great moments in this film to name.[/font]
[font=Arial]Identity (dir. James Mangold, 2003) -- Better than I thought it would be, but still pretty average. I think this evaluation might go down with time -- the ending just did [i]nothing[/i] for me. I saw every one of the "twists" coming a mile away, and they don't seem to provide any real value. I guess it's similar to The Usual Suspects in this way... sure, they're both well done and have interesting twists, but those twists basically invalidate 90% of the film we just watched. It's hard to get behind that kind of thing. Plus this features a sissy John C. McGinley, which I just can't get behind at all -- he's Dr. Cox from Scrubs, damnit![/font]
[font=Arial]Down With Love (dir. Peyton Reed, 2003) -- This wasn't anything special, but I will say it was incredibly [i]fun[/i]. It was what it was -- and while I enjoyed the first two acts much more than the third (the ending seemed quite contrived), Zellwegger and McGregor have some great chemistry throughout. Very fun, and definitely a worthwhile two hours (although not up to the caliber of Intolerable Cruelty, another fine romcom from 2003).[/font]
[font=Arial]Sans toit ni loi, aka Vagabond (dir. Agnes Varda, 1985) -- Sorry kids. I'm going to keep trying, diving into it, but I just can't get into French art cinema. I understand the unconventiality of it all, as a counter to classical Hollywood cinema, but I just find no value in it. A lot of art cinema holds aesthetics as a value, but I find many Hollywood films much more pleasing to the eye. Realism? Well, frankly, I prefer a driven story -- realistic or not. Stop me now, or I'll start sounding like Brian Cox as McKee in Adapataion. Point being that I can value this one as an accomplishment of structure and various other qualities, but I'm not an art cinema guy.[/font]
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