Varda was 25 when she shot her enormously influential debut feature, a marital drama and an acute, searching immersion in the daily business of provincial life, set in a small coastal fishing village in Sète, where she partly grew up. It was also the first of Varda’s many attempts at working out what would become one of her career-long goals: to navigate fluidly between the terrain of her characters’ private emotional lives and the topography of (as she later put it) the “geographically and politically specific environments” in which they live. Varda famously claimed to have seen almost no movies before making La Pointe Courte, but the film is in direct conversation, accidentally or not, with many of its neorealist ancestors. It spoke equally well to the future: many critics and scholars now consider it the first proper entry in what would become the Nouvelle Vague.
Playing as part of Varda: A Retrospective, December 20-January 6. See showtimes & get tickets.