Le Bonheur (1965)

Agnès Varda directs Jean-Claude Drouot, Claire Drouot and Marie-France Boyer in this drama where a happily married young family man starts an affair with a postal worker.

Beyond the film’s deceptively abrasive political and philosophical aims, this is a whirlwind of colours… one of the most visually vibrant pieces of cinema I’ve watched away from genre works. It is akin to Jacques Demy’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, in that we are presented with an almost chocolate box vision of romantic fantasy that is then destroyed by reality. In her husband’s film, you get the feeling an uncaring fate pulls the lovers apart, here the less naive assessment is the man’s selfishness and lack of empathy… his unblinking entitlement to put himself first… is to blame. That message sneaks up on you… Varda blindsides you with the shock of the fallout. For much of the running time you feel like you are settling into a warm bath of free love and pastoral beauty. Then she pulls the plug and leave you out in the cold. It feels a slightly different beast than her other films I’ve watched… less optimistic, more angry. This is no bad thing.

8

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