When we first see Mona, she is already dead. In Vagabond (1985), Agnès Varda then sets about to reconstruct the last days and weeks of this young woman’s life, as witnessed and retold through the eyes of others. We learn that none of these people really seemed to know Mona, and her last moments are ultimately witnessed only by us.
So what circumstances brought this young, unapologetic girl, her skin now frozen and stained from wine grapes, to this ditch? What did she want out of her life? Why did she take to the road? The witnesses will not ultimately be able to give us answers, as she is simply refracted through their own views, insecurities, or desires. Some were profoundly touched by their interaction with her. But Mona cannot tell us, though we suspect, that this was her first winter on the road. We just know it became her last.
Agnès Varda and Sandrine Bonnaire collaborated to make something so powerful and so human, whether you find Mona to be a truly free and independent soul, or someone who has just read too much trash, as the Shepherd proclaims. They have made a character I have certainly never seen before, and one I will not forget.
What you’ll find in this episode: analogues to other road films, whether Mona is a genderless character, and the joys of watching nonprofessional actors.
Links and Recommendations:
Check out Vagabond on IMDB.
Ericca’s further viewing pick of La Cérémonie. And also Monsieur Hire.
Cole’s further viewing pick of Faces Places.
Frost has damaged France’s vineyards.
Sandrine Bonnaire’s film about her sister.