It’s a personal favorite and a beautiful film, if only for its score. But it is also a visual feast. Shot in the suburbs of Paris, Agnes Varda’s Le Bonheur opens with an idyllic scene of a perfect little French “famille” tripping the light fantastic of a country outing together. This perfect bliss is interrupted when Francois (Jean-Claude Drouot), a carpenter, bumps into an attractive postal worker (Marie-France Boyer) and reality strikes. Critics praised the film’s cinematography, reminiscent of French Impressionist paintings, along with the performances. Then there is that soundscore, two works by Wolfie: Mozart’s Adagio and Fugue in C minor, and his Clarinet Quintet in A. Doesn’t that sound like something you’d like to look at and hear?
Director Agnes Varda was the only woman to hold her own in the male-dominated French New Wave film movement of the 1960s. Her breakthrough film, Cleo from 5 to 7, was released in 1962, followed by Le Bonheur, a very different but equally bracing domestic drama centering on a romantic triangle. Le Bonheur won two awards at the Berlin Film Festival in 1965 before its American release in 1966.
Agnes Varda went on to have a remarkable career for the next 50 years. Her later films include Lions Love, One Sings the Other Doesn’t, Vagabond, The Gleaners and I, The Beaches of Agnes, and Faces Places. She was given an honorary Academy Award for her diverse and brilliant body of work in 2017. We have seen and met Agnes Varda on her many visits to Los Angeles, memorably, at the home of the French Consul General in Los Angeles.
Le Bonheur 55th anniversary screening | Laemmle’s Glendale, Newhall, Playhouse, Royal Theatres | Aug 25, 7 PM