“Provocative and lovely to look at, this is one of Varda's best and most interesting features.”
Directly translated as 'happiness', Le Bonheur centres on a handsome young patriarch, his beautiful wife and their two young children - played by real-life family, French TV star Jean-Claude Drouot, his wife, and their toddlers.
In a quiet town, the family enjoy an idyllic existence. Francois is a carpenter, his wife cheerfully fashions wedding dresses and they spend their days attending family gatherings, making love and communing with nature. One day Francois ventures to a neighbouring town on business, he meets a pretty Postal worker, Émilie (Marie-France Boyer) and they begin an affair.
Le Bonheur is the first feature Varda shot in colour where she "tried with a very simple subject, to do Impressionist painting." The striking palette (which evokes numerous readings) suggests that Francois lives in a blissful and eternal summer. Toward the end of the film, the tone shifts into golden Autumnal hues - is his happiness diminishing or simply moving into a different phase?
Within this context of a gentle (if unconventional) love story, Varda offers numerous provocations about the role of women within marriage, morality and the very nature of happiness. On release, Le Bonheur was contested by audiences and critics alike. Varda commented that "finally it's a spectacle which demands a certain kind of activity from its spectator. It became a matter of confrontation, consciousness, of prise de conscience (realisation)."
Please note: this screening will take place at The Capitol while ACMI at Fed Square is closed for redevelopment.