29 October 2019

Agnès Varda's Sans toit ni loi | Vagabond (2008)

Agnès Varda's Sans toit ni loi – unsurprisingly – is abysmally translated into English as Vagabond. This film is based on truth in that it concerns a young woman who was sans toit ni loi – literally without a roof and without law, and an expression punning on the expression sans foi ni loi, roof replacing faith.

Mona (Sandrine Bonnaire) is the principal character here, many of the others being non-professionals. This can't be called a documentary, nor even a biopic: very little is known of the dead young woman, other than that she drifted around places, walking or hitching, having sex with the odd person she came across, occasionally finding the odd job and mixing with marginals or agricultural workers, drinking, smoking pot, often acting contrary to the norms of mainstream society.

Not that she made specific criticisms of or actions against society – she said very little at all – but she was, dare I use the word, an outsider par excellence. Her roof was temporary, being her tent which she pitched – camping sauvage – in any place she found she found suitable, including a cemetery.

Death – the same one – begins and ends this story. And it's from here that Varda begins her story, which is inevitably false but with some truths, many culled from the people who knew her, in so far as it was possible to know her.


Peter said...

Sans toit ni loi is one of my favourite films.

Dr Tony Shaw said...

I see we have the same taste on a number of things.