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“You are the Queen of Paradox

Time:2018-03-20 23:43Shoes websites Click:

Review jane Agnes

Few women in their time have ever been a muse to such a diverse range of artists and entities as Jane Birkin. Although little known in this country—aside, perhaps, from being the woman for whom the Birkin bag, the most expensive of purses which can cost well into six figures, was named—she has been an inspiration to, and adored by, the likes of her lover, singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, by whom she had a daughter, actress Charlotte Gainsbourg; her first husband, Oscar-winning film composer John Barry, who fathered another girl (Kate Barry, who sadly committed suicide in 2013); elite fashion company Hermes, producers of that infamous purse; the band Badly Drawn Boy, who used her image on an album cover; French writer Olivier Rolin; and a raft of film directors she’s worked with, including second husband Jacques Doillon, the father of her daughter, actress Lou Doillon. One of those directors, the esteemed Agnes Varda, was so endlessly fascinated that she even went so far as to make this film about her in 1988, which is only now getting a U.S. release.

Jane B. par Agnes V. is a predictably quirky, loving valentine to the star, born in London and an It girl during the swinging ’60s, but eternally embraced by France, where she lives, after her union with Gainsbourg and countless films made there. It is spiced by the director’s sharp, womanly observation, which happily saves it from being too completely enraptured and cuts through the largely unnecessary moments in which Varda feels she must do more than just a filmed biography, and make it a movie as well. These consist of little film-lets which posit Birkin (with guest stars Laura Betti, Jean-Pierre Leaud, Philippe Leorarde and Mathieu Demy) variously as a woman out of a Titian painting; the heroine of bloody little policier; a Joan of Arc being burned at the stake, more hysterical and human than the stoic saint of popular iconography; Ariadne out of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, and even Stan Laurel, a personality Birkin admires, to an Oliver Hardy amusingly travestied by Laura Betti.

Many of these fantasy insertions are commentaries on Birkin’s actual life, but, much more to the point—and preferable—are Varda’s conversations with her. I once interviewed Birkin, with her fashion-model body and jolie-laide looks (perfectly pretty aside from those big, bad British teeth which saved her from comely perfection and gave her an odd distinction), and while she is indeed airy-fairy as all get-out, with the slightly maddening aura of chaos which stamps her as an artist, that is definitely the real her. She’s no phony, and for all her hummingbird flights of fancy in conversation and behavior, she’s completely down-to-earth, funny, febrilely sensitive and damn good company.

Varda, who describes her as a mixture of “plasticine Eve and tomboy Sloane Ranger,” captures her kaleidoscope of qualities; throughout, Birkin is deeply charming, as when she states that one of the two big regrets in her life was that she was flat-chested (which luckily pleased the breast-eschewing Gainsbourg, with whom she sang—or was it orgasmically gasped?—the song “Moi je t’aime non plus,” which has forever haunted her and will no doubt be most prominently featured in all her obits). A humanitarian woman of high principle—she asked that her name be taken off that bag, which she never uses because of the crocodiles being killed for it—she describes the most intimate details of her storied, colorful, ultra-Bohemian life with a classily delicate combination of tact and frankness.

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