Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
review, Faces Places, Faces, Places, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, home entertainment, DVD, Blu-ray film rating

FACES PLACES

THE EMPATHY ENGINE

MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Chris Edwards
15th August 2017

Not every great filmmaker gets to sign off with a great film. Even fewer are able to incorporate the very nature of this farewell into the film itself, tying it into the fabric of the film’s DNA so intrinsically, crafting their own ode to the art form they’re leaving behind. Now, this may have nothing to do with Agnès Varda, one of the most influential contributors to the French New Wave that seismically shifted the landscape of cinema in the twentieth century. The 88-year old Belgian director, who has been one of the most vital voices in international independent filmmaking for decades, hasn’t explicitly stated that this will be her last film. However, should it be (and based on her age, failing eyesight, and the confounding difficulty she’s having in securing financing, it most likely will be), it is a most beautifully perfect grace note of a farewell.

The documentary chronicles Varda’s friendship with young visual artist JR – a tall, bearded 33-year old, permanently hidden behind dark sunglasses – as the two co-directors travel the French countryside, meeting locals, listening to their stories, and turning them into giant photographic artworks that JR emblazons across apartment buildings, barns, factories and even rubble. Ostensibly, that’s it. The entire film, all 89 minutes, is just that. And it’s wonderful.

WATCH: 'FACES PLACES'

Varda and JR are a beautifully mismatched odd couple, but their shared curiosity and boundless imaginations bind them together. Really, their partnership is the film’s warm centre, as they gently bicker and trade views on art and the act of creation, it’s clear that each has found in the other a kindred spirit, regardless of age. The way they collaborate effortlessly, bouncing ideas off of each other and pushing each other’s flights of fancy, is just endlessly joyful in and of itself. But it’s their subjects, and the artists’ relationships with them, which push this film over the edge into masterpiece territory.

I could list each and every tiny episode of creation and connection in the film, and endlessly gush over the tiny details in the stories these people share, or I could just describe the overwhelming cumulative effect that this film and these people create together. It is stunning how rife with unassuming humanity and empathy this quiet, charming documentary is, and how powerful its conception of art and the generosity of creation ends up being. These two artists are each ceaselessly inquisitive when it comes to people, in such a genuine, heartfelt manner. Each of the figures that they encounter on their travels reveals to the pair facets of their lives that may not immediately jump out to the casual passer-by – loneliness, fortitude, friendship, and beauty – but are in fact lying in wait just beneath the surface.

It is stunning how rife with unassuming humanity and empathy this quiet, charming documentary is...

At one point in the film, the focus shifts onto Varda herself, as the great director reveals in detail the degeneration of her eyesight, an upsettingly ironic fate for such an artist. However, even this then becomes a movingly light, quiet moment, as JR helps her convey what this process looks like from the inside by creating a life-sized, blurry, and ever so slightly moving eye chart – yet another tiny, tossed-off moment of visually striking empathy. This then extends even further to the final piece that JR makes for Varda, one that shouldn’t be spoiled, but is nevertheless profoundly striking in its big-hearted simplicity.

I cannot tell you how fantastically timely I found this film. The great philosopher for our times, one Tilda Swinton, once called cinema “the ultimate compassion machine – the empathy engine”, and I can’t think of a more fitting way to describe this film. Reinforcing the ability of art and artists to form connections and provide windows into the lives of people who are just like us, and also not at all, the film is a moving tribute to the act of creation and the bonds that that act can form.

Please, please see it.

The Belko Experiment - Outcome: dull and forgettable
THE BELKO EXPERIMENT
Outcome: dull and forgettable
This film exists simply to cash-in on James Gunn’s current success via one of his old, discarded ideas. Unoriginal and rather boring, the script should have remained lodged beneath Gunn’s couch.
The Void - Filled with gory, stylish horror
THE VOID
Filled with gory, stylish horror
‘The Void’ is an impressive production not just for an indie film, but for a modern horror movie in a category crowded with high-budget slop.
Maudie - A gentle and loving portrait of a inspiring artist
MAUDIE
A gentle and loving portrait of a inspiring artist
It’s hard not to be charmed by ‘Maudie’. Sally Hawkins is radiant as Maud, and her work in this film will hopefully continue to build her reputation. Aisling Walsh has crafted a gem with this film.
God's Own Country - A miraculous and deeply beautiful film
GOD'S OWN COUNTRY
A miraculous and deeply beautiful film
'God's Own Country' is a miracle of a film, a quiet masterpiece that holds you enraptured from beginning to end by its beauty and its humanity.
Jungle - A true story told poorly
JUNGLE
A true story told poorly
Though the cast is charismatic and eager, and the story is astonishing, this is a disappointingly limp affair. While it tells the tale with clarity, it forgets to be a film in the process.
Call Me By Your Name - Beautiful beyond description
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
Beautiful beyond description
Luca Guadagnino has made a film of enormous humanity, a statement on the nature of love that sends shockwaves through you, especially with the powerhouse performance from Timothée Chalamet.
Good Time - A scuzzy and propulsive odyssey
GOOD TIME
A scuzzy and propulsive odyssey
It is exhausting and exhilarating in equal measure, but the underlying humanism of the Safdies’ dark and unflinching world view means that buried underneathis a jittery, frantically beating heart.
Revolution of Sound. Tangerine Dream - A salute to the 80s synth maestros
REVOLUTION OF SOUND. TANGERINE DREAM
A salute to the 80s synth maestros
While ‘Revolution of Sound. Tangerine Dream’ is less engaging than it could have been, it is still fascinating viewing, particularly for film and music buffs.
A Quiet Dream - A quirky, beautiful urban comedy
A QUIET DREAM
A quirky, beautiful urban comedy
Some mild touches of fantasy contribute to a mood of dreamy melancholy in this quirky, bittersweet and rather beautiful urban comedy.
A Life In Waves - An essential look at an electronic music innovator
A LIFE IN WAVES
An essential look at an electronic music innovator
‘A Life in Waves’ continues Whitcomb’s admirable quest to shine a light on the untold stories of inspirational women who blazed a trail. This is an essential documentary for fans of electronic music.
Jupiter's Moon - Defies gravity
JUPITER'S MOON
Defies gravity
It's an overwhelming experience that's remarkable, nuanced and elegant. This is film as both art and entertainment melded together, fascinating and unparalleled in its story and storytelling methods.
The Butterfly Tree - A gorgeous slice of Aussie cinema
THE BUTTERFLY TREE
A gorgeous slice of Aussie cinema
Priscilla Cameron has crafted an emotional, stylised and slightly fantastical story about three people's relationship with love, loss and each other.
The Square - A dazzling piece of cinematic invention
THE SQUARE
A dazzling piece of cinematic invention
'The Square' is a masterful piece of cinema, preposterously funny and endlessly strange, culminating in moments of genuine awe.
The Killing Of A Sacred Deer - Revenge most bizarre
THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER
Revenge most bizarre
This is another indulgently outlandish offering from a director unafraid to cross lines and toy with taboos. The film is slick, smart and self-assured - the best kind of barbarous cinema.
Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience - Malick's vision of life itself
VOYAGE OF TIME: THE IMAX EXPERIENCE
Malick's vision of life itself
There were moments that took my breath away, images that spoke very deeply to our connection with the natural world. This is the chance to celebrate Terrence Malick's skill as a visual storyteller.
Happy End - Michael Haneke's puzzling social allegory
HAPPY END
Michael Haneke's puzzling social allegory
This puzzle-box doesn't make it easy for you, and like many of Michael Haneke's films, your response will likely be complex. He wants you to be provoked, pushed and bamboozled by it.
Hello, Goodbye - Emotional, watchable
HELLO, GOODBYE
Emotional, watchable
While the film doesn’t reinvent the wheel, if you are seeking a simple story that is elegantly told, imminently watchable, and may require a box of tissues to catch some excess eye moisture.
Tokyo Idols - J-pop obsessions and fandom
TOKYO IDOLS
J-pop obsessions and fandom
A few unanswered questions aside, ‘Tokyo Idols’ is a very strange, amusing, and uncomfortable look into a particularly odd facet of modern Japanese culture.
In This Corner Of The World - A heartbreaking and beautiful animated film
IN THIS CORNER OF THE WORLD
A heartbreaking and beautiful animated film
Katabuchi’s previous anime films are better known in the West among anime nerds - but the incredibly moving and sobering ‘In This Corner of the World’ should be the film to change that.
The Challenge - An epic struggle against drowsiness
THE CHALLENGE
An epic struggle against drowsiness
As amazing as everything looks and sounds, ‘The Challenge’ is quite boring. Most scenes are long and dreamy, but they also tend to be repetitive and boy, do they drag on.
The Ornithologist - Let madness take flight
THE ORNITHOLOGIST
Let madness take flight
‘The Ornithologist’ is about losing yourself in the wild, only to find yourself. Venturing down twisting pathways, it drags us on a preposterous adventure through the darkest parts of the mind.
FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: 25/01/2018
RUN TIME: 01h 29m
CAST: Agnès Varda
JR
Laurent Levesque
DIRECTORS: Agnès Varda
JR
© 2011 - 2022 SWITCH.
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us!