Visages villages [Faces Places] (2017)

Visages villages
Director: JR, Agnès Varda
Writer: JR, Agnès Varda
Seen on: 22.6.2018

JR is a street artist, specializing in large scale black-and-white prints of photographies that he plasters over any available surfaces. Agnès Varda is a filmmaker, especially known for her New Wave films. The two of them are an unlikely pair, but have decided to go on a road trip through rural France together, meeting people, taking their photos and installing the photos on walls and more. And, of course, they are filming the entire journey of discovery.

Visages villages as a beautiful, simple concept that allows us to discover not only JR and Varda and the places and people they travel to, but gives us insight in much grander themes, despite (or maybe because) not limiting itself to one in particular.

Film poster showing JR and Agnès Varda walking in front of a tank truck with an eye printed on it.

Visages villages shows that you can find the big stuff in the details of everyday life. Instead of looking to the big achievements in the big cities, the film goes to the smallest, remotest towns and looks at the people there who may have never left the area. And what it discovers there is as much worth telling and thinking about as the supposedly big stuff. Or rather, it’s just as big, even if it doesn’t seem to be that way.

From the small and personal, Varda and JR sketch a narrative about interpersonal relationships with their connections, memories and vulnerabilities: some of the biggest things we as humans can look at. The film doesn’t have a particular theme – or at least, it doesn’t seem like they started with a particular theme, but they found it along the way.

A woman standing in her doorway with a huge print of her own face across the house wall.

I really loved JR’s art that is expressive, conceptual and aesthetic at the same time. And Varda has such a great personality, I wouldn’t have minded watching a film that just follows her around as she does the washing. The two of them together made for an absolutely charming pair.

All these ingredients become a touching, entertaining and funny thing about nothing in particular and everything at once. It’s a stunning documentary.

JR and Agnès Varda in front of three prints of workers on a house wall.

Summarizing: Very sweet.

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