Its been a while but I’ve finally been able to post a Blind Spot post!
I had never seen an Agnes Varda film until last month when the BFI had programmed an Agnes Varda season. The title had always caught my eye and I was finally able to see it.
When school girl Pauline, recognises a portait of her estranged neighbour and friend Suzanne in photographer's studio, the two reconnect under strained circumstances. Suzanne is pregnant with her third child with the photographer and can't afford another. Pauline helps raise money for her to get an abortion but things get worse. The photographer commits suicide, leaving Suzanne no choice but to leave to countryside back to her hostile parents. Meanwhile Pauline leaves home and school and becomes part of a singing troupe.
Ten years later the women are reunited, meeting by chance at a demonstratio in 1972. The two friends stay in touch through letters over the years apart. Pauline continues writing songs and moves to Iran with her boyfriend Darius, whom she later marries but having grown disenchanted with her life returns to France to give birth. Suzanne eventually saves enough money to leave her parents' farm and opens a family planning clinic where she meets and marries a local doctor. Even though the two friends are separeted, they meet together sharing their lives apart.
Both Valérie Mairesse (Pauline/Pomme) and Thérèse Liotard (Suzanne) portray their characters with such ease, even in the face of such despair, they seem so natural. The hippy lifestyle that Pauline sometimes lives is also seen as a natural choice. The songs her group sings are soft spoken protest songs about femminism and life. A favourite song of mine is the song Pomme sings about travelling to Holland to have an abortion along with all the other women. Collectively they take boat ride together, which where she sings about the abortionees. Its humourous but with a sting of truth as it is still painfully relevent for the women of Ireland, who only recently were given their freedom to choose.
The story about these two women is beautifully told through the lost art of letter writing. Their bond is so strong from the minute they meet, they are true friends. Sometimes friendship is portrayed as cliches and difficult to watch because it doesn't feel real. No matter where life takes them and what happens, their affection is genuine.
To find out how it all started, head over to The Matinee and to see what's happening now, check out Returning Videotapes who is the new host of the Blind Spot Series.