La Pointe-Courte

1954

La Pointe-Courte

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User Ratings: 316
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Movie Info

At the time of its release, much was made of the fact that La Point Courte was directed by a mere "25-year-old girl". That girl was professional photographer Agnes Varda, later hosannahed by aficionados as "The Grandmother of the New Wave." Covering a wide ranging of sociopolitical issues, Varda's first cinematic effort, reportedly lensed on a budget of $20,000, is virtually two films in one, developed in parallel fashion. The twin storylines concern the simultaneous efforts of a husband and wife to mend their broken marriage, but Varda's interests clearly lie in what occurs around the two plotlines rather than the linear progression of the stories themselves. Edited by Alain Resnais, La Point Courte was initially dismissed by some shortsided American critics as being "too arty;" it has since been assessed by one critic as "the first film of the French nouvelle vague . Its interplay between conscience, emotions and the real world make it a direct descendant of Hiroshima, Mon Amour."

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Critic Reviews for La Pointe-Courte

All Critics (1) | Fresh (1)

Audience Reviews for La Pointe-Courte

  • Aug 07, 2014
    The aesthetic importance of this tremendous masterpiece of a debut is equally proportional to its historical one. To begin with, much was made of the fact that the film had been done by "a 25-year-old girl". Little did those bastards know that not only this film would be debatedly considered as the very first film of the French New Wave movement - predating Chabrol's <i>Le Beau Serge</i> (1958) which is the feature that normally carries that credit - but also that Varda would be then called "the grandmother of the New Wave". So we are talking about the legendary first project of a woman that was currently my age. With all due respect, that just turns me on. A lot. Secondly, this is, like stated, a debut. This had been already mentioned, but I bring this up again because Varda only had previous experience as a photographer, and yet, the imagery reaches extraordinary measures of visual poetry, balance and correct panoramic views and character close-ups. It tricks us into thinking that the director had directorial experience already, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. This is a proof that the only thing you need for directing a masterpiece is the heart of an auteur, and not previous experience. You require, however, aesthetic talent, and to firmly believe in the power of what images can communicate. Thirdly, the film is divided into two stories, but not fragmented. Instead, these are told simultaneously. This is extremely important. I. The first story brings up simplicity to the table as it portrays the everyday life of the inhabitants of the existing village La Pointe-Courte. In the context of French cinema, this seems like a transition between one stage and the next. The first stage is visible in this story. The whole depiction, thematically and given the physical settings, is obviously reminiscent from Visconti's unparalleled piece of cinematic Neorealism <i>La Terra Trema: Episodio del Mare</i> (1948). That was the first thing that came to my mind. However, the tone carries a joyous energy, even if images of poverty fill the screen, with a peculiar freshness and tones of humor. So instead of being a furious denunciation against social inequalities and the macroeconomic system, it is simply a picturesque representation of a distant lifestyle that resonates true even in the modern era. II. The second story, believe it or not, brought Resnais and Bergman to my mind. The story is about a couple discussing their bonds and how they must face the emotional and time transcendence of their troubled relationship. Indeed, the film was edited by Alain Resnais, which is noticeable in the most impressionistic segments of the film, from the opening scene to the cinematography employed to focus on what happens in the surroundings of the story. There is a particular scene meant to contrast two differing personalities between the two lovers which is identical to the iconic shot used in <i>Persona</i> (1966) to suggest a personality duality beginning a process of either unification or metaphysical connection. Here, the intention is not that deep, but this scene not only predates Bergman 11 years, but is also explained by what is stated by the woman near the ending: their bonds between both are stronger than themselves. The dialogue handling for emphasizing the depth of their psychological concerns is mindblowing, while imagery subliminally illustrates the points they are making. So this third aspect of the film is just to point out the fact that Varda made a debut with TWO styles, and both are extraordinarily made!! Is she even from this world? My hypothesis is that Resnais grabbed influence from this dual storytelling structure and applied it to his best film <i>Hiroshima mon Amour</i> (1959), where a micro-tragedy (Elle and Lui) mirrors the reconstruction process of a macro-tragedy: Hiroshima's bombing. Similarly, the relationship micro-story happens in the context of a larger macro-story, which are the anecdotes of the village, which range from the tragic to the folkloric and the nostalgic. A rating below 4.5 stars needs a terribly serious justification to convince me otherwise. This is a freakin' cinema phenomenon from one of the few heroines in cinema. 99/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Jan 11, 2014
    Sometimes presented as the first film of the French New Wave, "La Pointe-Courte" arrived long before more iconic landmarks like "Breathless" and "The 400 Blows." Director Agnes Varda surveys life in a quaint seaside village, focusing primarily on a troubled couple visiting from Paris (the man is the young Phillippe Noiret, who will be barely recognizable to contemporary fans familiar with his more elderly roles), a pair of naive lovers whose father stands in the way of their courtship and the threat that government regulations pose to the local fishing trade. The tone is charmingly gentle, with a camera meandering between little houses as melancholy clarinets ambiently chirp on the soundtrack. For better or worse, the main couple's dialogue obviously anticipates the later work of directors like Alain Resnais (who is this film's editor) and Jean-Luc Godard -- the two scarcely show any emotion, and instead tend to just abstractly muse about love while looking into the distance. Not too engaging, and such meditations eventually wear out their welcome.
    Eric B Super Reviewer
  • Feb 13, 2013
    arguably nouvelle vague began here. remarkably fresh and original film made by 25 yr old varda, a professional photographer with no prior film experience. shot on location in a small fishing village in south of france, an area where varda lived as a child, it is simultaneously a documentary on the simple life of the people there, and a portrait of a visiting couple's dissolving marriage, played by actors. alain resnais was the editor on this film and it's influence on 'hiroshima mon amour' is fairly obvious. an amazing debut
    Stella D Super Reviewer
  • Aug 29, 2012
    I love this film! The juxtaposition of the stories, the camera movement, tight composition and framing. The story of the town reminds me of a neo-realist film (e.g. La Terra Treme). The story of the couple feels Antonionian (the alienation trilogy) , but with dialogue. What amazes me is that Varda had never seen a neo-realist film, so there was no chance of influence.
    Stefanie C Super Reviewer

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