One of Agnès Varda’s most celebrated features, Vagabond tells the harrowing story of the last months in the life of a young female drifter. Sandrine Bonnaire’s riveting performance in the lead role made her an overnight international star at the age of 18, winning her a César Award for Best Actress.
“What a film this is! Like so many of the greatest films, it tells us a very specific story, strong and unadorned, about a very particular person. It is only many days later that we reflect that the story of the vagabond could also be the story of our lives.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
Shot in a semi-documentary style, the film opens abruptly on the body of Mona, frozen to death in a ditch on the side of the road. Interspersed with flashbacks of Mona’s life as a drifter are reminiscences by the people she met along the way – a fascinating gallery of characters including a wealthy academic, a philosophical shepherd, a Tunisian laborer, a giggly countess, etc. – largely played by non-professional actors, whose interactions with Mona produce a splintered portrait of an enigmatic, ultimately unknowable woman. With its sparse, poetic imagery and its deft mingling of fiction and reality, Vagabond is a stunning work that won Varda the top prize at the Venice Film Festival. (Dir. by Agnès Varda, 1985, France, in French/Arabic/English with English subtitles,105 mins., Not Rated)