Le Bonheur (1965)

AGNES VARDA

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB, 1965Screenplay by Agnès VardaCinematography by , Produced by Music by Production Design by Costume Design by . Film Editing by .

leads an idyllic suburban life as a carpenter with his wife and children (who are played by Drouot’s real-life wife Claire Drouot and their kids), their days so bright and sunny that director Agnes Varda only displays them in gorgeous summery weather, filming everything like it’s being reflected off a Van Gogh sunflower. The love that Drouot has with his wife is real, and their Sunday outings to the park provide deep fulfillment, but even with all this satisfaction he can’t avoid temptation when the smiles of a beautiful postal clerk () win him over and he begins a passionate affair with her. Believing that it is possible to simply make room for more love, Drouot tries to get his wife on board with this oh so French situation, but things don’t go as planned. Varda’s third feature shows off her ability to be so cynically perceptive without ever indulging in bitterness, presenting a natural law about happiness as something that can only exist for one person when it’s being taken away from someone else and, in a man’s world, it’s often a man’s pleasure at the expense of a woman’s. Judging flawed humans harshly has never been Varda’s track, and she puts this thesis across without turning Drouot into a feckless rogue or positioning Boyer’s postal worker as a housewrecking temptress. The cinematography is stunning and the easy flow of one scene to the next has the feeling of visual poetry.

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