I have been terrible this year at keeping up with documentaries and foreign films, so I am glad I was able to make it to Faces Places to check off two boxes. It also gave me the excuse to go to one of my favorite theaters around here, which is a retro classic cinema on a small down town main street the next town over, which has a coffee shop/café attached and a bottle shop/bar next door. I went over early to enjoy a nitro cold brew and honey chicken salad sandwich while I finished up a book for book club. But I digress.
Faces Places (or Visages Villages in French, not sure the translation was really required) is essentially about a traveling art exhibit, featuring younger photographer/muralist JR and established director Agnès Varda’s trip through France to meet people, take their pictures, hear their stories, and paste gigantic prints of their portraits on edifices.
There is not more to the movie than that on paper, but on the screen, it soars. These two bicker their way across the picturesque countryside, capturing emotions and creating masterpieces on a seemingly simple yet monstrous scale. You watch from movie train cars as they breeze in and out of towns, leaving a mark as they go, even if only until washed away by tides. My personal favorite installation was actually not a human face, but a goats.
An aspect I enjoyed and found unexpected but true, is not everyone reacted the same way to seeing themselves blown up on display. Some were moved, flattered, indifferent, embarrassed. All in all, the film is an emotional journey about age, art, humanity, and the relationship between these two. I didn’t want it to end. 9/10