Agnes Varda's 1991 tribute to her husband Jacques Demy (who died of AIDS about six months before this premiered at the Cannes Film Festival) combines dramatic sequences portraying his provincial childhood, documentary footage shot during his final days, and critical interpolations of scenes from his films. She interweaves these elements so fluidly that the movie suggests a single, continuous thought; the result is less a biopic than a reverie, centered on the young Demy's wonder at discovering cinema. The narrative scenes play out mainly in black and white, but Varda shifts to color at unexpected moments, illustrating how Demy used his imagination to transform everyday life into the stuff of fantasy. She doesn't let the latter upstage the former, however; her re-creations of French life during the Nazi occupation are precise and pointedly unsentimental. In French with subtitles.
By Ben Sachs