Varda had trained in art history and worked as the official photographer for the Théâtre Nationale Populaire in Paris before turning to cinema. In her ambitious first film, often considered a progenitor of the French New Wave, she interweaves two parallel stories to create a portrait of the Mediterranean fishing port in which she grew up. The first involves a married couple (Monfort and Noiret) who struggle to right their relationship in the face of deep differences of personality and background. The other story, in the manner of Italian Neorealism, focuses on the fishermen of La Pointe Courte and their struggles against poverty and officialdom. Varda moves back and forth between these two bodies of material, imitating, as she has said, Faulkner’s technique of parallel construction in The Wild Palms.
One of a series of films Varda made for the French Tourist Office, this short subverts its official purpose with humor and irreverence, a sense of the incon-gruous, and a quasi-surrealist take on the region reminiscent of Vigo’s A Propos de Nice. Elegant images and witty commentary contrast the crowded pleasures of the beaches with the stately, private gardens of the rich as all humanity seeks a paradise on earth.