Un cadeau d'anniversaire

Jane B. par Agnes V.: Jane Birkin, Agnes Varda, and cat.

What I liked most about Agnes Varda’s Jane B. par Agnes V. (1987), a cinematic present to Jane Birkin on the occasion of her fortieth birthday, was not the whimsical use of fantasy sequences (in which Varda casts Birkin as a variety of female roles—femme fatale, Spanish dancer, Calamity Jane, Joan of Arc) but rather the candid nature of the footage in which Birkin plays herself, telling Varda’s camera about her children, her dreams and her insomnia, what attracts her to other people, her adolescent self-consciousness about her small breasts.  What’s great about the film is that in these scenes Varda doesn’t approach Birkin as a style icon, a celebrity, or even an artist; Varda’s interest in Birkin is as a woman, a person; Varda is able to excavate the Jane Birkin underneath all of the costumes, the gossip and the fame.

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