A woman has frozen to death in a ditch and no one claims her body. Who was she? Is somebody missing her? Do her childhood friends remember her? The mystery of how many people are alone in this world and our unsettling inability to know if anyone will mourn their loss is addressed in Vagabond, an unforgettable movie that reminds us we are just passersby in this thing called life.
The 1985 French movie has been revived to mark director Agnes Varda’s 90th birthday. The feature is a classic of New Wave cinema that reminds us of the likes of Godard and Truffaut and brings us back to the golden age of filmmaking. It’s good to go and see a picture of this kind of verité that reflects a big social issue. The piece is truthful and dramatic and it paints an excellent portrait of an ambitious woman suffering from loneliness.
Mona, played by an outstanding Sandrine Bonnaire, is a rebel. She has escaped home and is living by camping around in the woods and working smalls jobs in the southern French countryside. No one knows who she is, but along her journey, she marks the people she meets. Slowly the audience knows her story through their anecdotes, which are shown in an interview format, as if the film was a documentary.
Bonnaire’s performance is enigmatic and memorable, especially in her moments of pure sadness and desperation. But even then, Mona always manages to move on, no matter what happens. One of the highlights is the scene in which the protagonist is taking care of an old lady. Mona is truly happy, laughing and smiling as if everything will be ok.
This is a tragic film, an illustration of life on the road, a life which prevents lasting bonds. We hear and see the descriptions of who Mona was, but do we end up knowing who she really was? Vagabond is a beautifully shot cinematic masterpiece that must be seen again. After watching this, Varda will be one director you will want to follow.
Vagabond is being screened at the BFI from 29th June 2018.
Watch a clip from Vagabond here: