Le Bonheur (1965) is Varda’s third feature film, following her much beloved ode to the French New Wave, Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962). In the intervening years between the release of the two films, Varda seems to have traded the demure intimacy she achieved in Cléo for vibrant color and sharp, yet ambiguous, irony. While Le Bonheur earned Varda some critical acclaim, including the Silver Bear at the 1965 Berlin Film Festival and the Louis Delluc Prize awarded by the Académie française, it puzzled critics with its inscrutable, flat characters and its ambivalent stance on gender politics and marriage. Le Bonheur, which translates to “happiness,” follows François, a young carpenter in rural France, and his relationship with two women: his wife Thérèse and his mistress Émilie — both of whom express uncomplicated adoration for him, while asking next to nothing in return. Varda’s sensitive camerawork and surprising use of color are in stark juxtaposition with the discomfiting simplicity of its narrative and characters. Varda compared her film to “a summer fruit with […] perfect colors, inside of which is a worm.”
Director: Agnès Varda
Running time: 80 minutes
Format: Digital Cinema Package
Source: Janus Films
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