MOVIE REVIEW: Documentary Faces Places

faces places

Faces Places in cinemas now
Media screening provided by publicist
Words by Amy Marks

Produced by film maker Agnes Varda and visual artist JR, it would be easy to stereotype Faces Places as simply a French film. The film is in French, subtitled in English, and is filmed entirely in France, thus it is most definitely a French film. But it is not what you would picture a French film to be. That’s nothing against the sub-genre, but if you have an image in your head of this film based on those facts: let go of your assumptions.

‘If you have an image in your head of this film based on those facts: let go of your assumptions’

It would be easy to say this is a film about images. Specifically giant black and white images that are pasted all over France. Or, about the film’s creators, JR and Varda’s relationship. It is about all these things. But that’s just a slice of what this film is.

Faces Places is about the power of human connection and reflection. The film itself follows two internationally known artists from different eras that come together to create something wonderful. Agnes Verda, a classic filmmaker, and JR a photographer and visual artist.

The pair travel around France in a custom made truck, resembling a polaroid camera, that can print giant black and white photos. One of the big talking points of this film is the age gap between the two artists; Verda is in her late 80s, while JR is in his early 30s.

‘Throughout the film, there are beautiful moments where you see these two learning to understand each other’

The culture clash between the two often comes together in spectacular and beautiful ways. Whether it’s working together on how to compose the image, where and how to paste it, or fighting over their differences of opinion. Throughout the film, there are beautiful moments where you see these two learning to understand each other, but it is clear the story is not about them.

Faces Places follows a waitress who agrees to be photographed for the project; explores the world of a man who has never worked a day in his life; looks at the lives of the women who support their husbands working tirelessly.

It becomes increasingly clear that the paste ups mean so much more than initially intended. The women who participate to show how they support their husbands, end up showing how strong they are, and how their husbands support them; the man who has no idea that agreeing to be pasted up on his barn will result in a claim to his land; the waitress who suddenly becomes the most famous women in town. In its own small way this project changed lives.

This movie will leave you with the most heartwarming, whimsical feeling from it’s unobtrusive innocence. Faces Places has such joy, you don’t need to speak French to understand it. If anything the subtitles were a nice accompaniment to the body language and unspoken dialogue between these everyday people.

While it is joyful, it also delicately looks at the fragility of life. There’s a particularly poignant moment when Verda processes an off hand comment about ‘running out of time’. It appears to strikes deep for the filmmaker and shows you why this project is so important to Verda.

‘If you’re into inquisitive and innovative filmmaking that explains the complexity of life with the innocence and energy of a child, then this film is for you’

The first thing I did after the screening was sit down with a vanilla milkshake and wonder about the stories of those around me. If you’re into inquisitive and innovative filmmaking that explains the complexity of life with the innocence and energy of a child, then this film is for you.