DAGUERREOTYPES (director/writer: Agnes Varda; cinematographers: Nurith Aviv/William Lubtchansky; editors: Andrée Choty/Gordon Swire; cast: Rosalie Varda; Runtime: 75; MPAA Rating: NR; Cinema Guild; 1976-France-in French with English subtitles)It’s a charming pic of a way of city life that no longer exists.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Agnes Varda (“The Beaches of Agnes”/”One Sings, The Other Doesn’t”/”The Gleaners & I”) directs this personal documentary on the Ma and Pa shopkeepers of the rue Daguerre in Paris, where the filmmaker has lived for over 50 years and where she shops. It’s a charming pic of a way of city life that no longer exists.The shops covered include a quaint homemade perfume store, a butcher shop, a bakery, a grocery owned by a Tunisian from Djerba (the largest island in North Africa), a clock repair shop, a tailor, a beauty salon and others. All the elderly shopkeepers were asked the same questions: When did they move here and from where? How did they meet their spouse? Do they dream? It’s interesting to note that all the shopkeepers come from the country. There were inter-cutting scenes of shop life with a magician doing his act in a local cafe.

The heart of the intimate film shows the shopkeepers opening for business, attending to customers, and working a long day. In the modern day of malls and chain-stores, these small shops where the customers are known by the merchants and treated on a personal basis, seems a good reminder of what we lost in the name of so-called progress. Varda’s affectionate feelings for these ordinary people is sincere, and the pic comes across as a reminder, especially to the younger generations,that sometimes small is better than big.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”