Agnès Varda, who passed away in 2019 at the age of 90, was one of the pioneers of the French New Wave, and her films are as striking and relevant today as they were in the 50s and 60s. Considered the Grande Dame of the Nouvelle Vague film movement, her career stretched from the 1960s all the way to 2019, with her final film, Varda by Agnès, released in February of 2019. Here are just a few of the places you can find some of Varda’s most enduring works.
The Gleaners And I (2000) – The Criterion Channel
Varda explores the world of gleaners, historically people who scour the earth for produce left over after a harvest, as well as hunters of knickknacks, people who live by the mentality of “waste not, want not.” Criterion Channel subscribers can stream The Gleaners and I with a 7-day free trial, or a $10.99/month subscription.
Cléo From 5 To 7 (1962) – Max
The movie that jumpstarted Agnès Varda’s career centers around the two hours a wealthy young parisienne spends wandering around Paris while waiting to learn whether or not she has cancer. It’s currently streaming on Max, along with a slew of other French films, like The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and Belle de Jour.
Faces Places (2017) – Doc Club/Sundance Now/AMC+
This Oscar-nominated documentary was conceived as the brainchild of Varda and JR, a French street artist and photographer famous for his installations. Though the film did not win its category, Varda did not leave the 2017 awards ceremony empty-handed, netting herself a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award. The film follows Varda and JR on a trek through rural France as they use abandoned buildings, factories, and street settings as canvases for the large-scale flyposted black-and-white photographs JR is famous for. It can be streamed with a free 7-day trial of AMC+, Sundance Now, or Doc Club through Amazon Prime.
The Beaches of Agnes (2008) – Criterion Channel
It takes a special kind of director to film their own memoir, but this film (which was intended to be Varda’s last, later usurped by Faces Places, and even more recently, Varda by Agnès) is an experiment in joie de vivre like no other. This bricolage of reminiscences, interspersed with archival footage, paints the picture of a life well-lived. Varda even includes live footage of her 80th birthday party, just another stone in the strange, inimitable castle of a life the director built.
Le Bonheur (1965) – Max
When a husband in suburban Paris takes up a mistress, it spells death for his wife, and an unraveling of tragic events. Le Bonheur is streaming right now on Max. (Shortly after Varda’s death, an exhibit called the Serre du Bonheur, which translates to “Greenhouse of Happiness,” went up in a thousand-year-old castle in the heart of France. The exhibit was an explosion of unspooled film reels from Le Bonheur, mixed in with potted sunflowers and a bare-boned tree serving as the perch of a black-and-white cat.)
La Pointe Courte (1954) – Max
Long considered a forerunner of the French New Wave movement, La Pointe Courte is one of Varda’s earlier films, which focuses on an unhappy couple struggling with everyday hardships in rural France. It’s available to stream on Max.