Lions Love (1969)


(director/writer: Agnes Varda; cinematographer: Stefan Larner; editor: Robert Dalva; music: Joseph Byrd; cast: Viva, Jerome Ragni, James Rado, Shirley Clarke, Carlos Clarens, Eddie Constantine, Hal Landers, Peter Bogdanovich; Runtime: 115; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Agnes Varda; Max L. Raab; 1969-France-in French with English subtitles)
Nothing great emerges, but the free-form drama has many loopy moments and is very funny.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The Agnes Varda(“Cleo from 5 to 7″/”Vagabond”/”The Gleaners and I”) avant-garde film is less like French New Wave and more like Andy Warhol or John Waters. It offers Varda’s weird look at Hollywood, where actors were once referred to as lions.

Occupying a rented Hollywood hilltop home and locked into a ménage à trois relationship are Viva, the Andy Warhol superstar, and Jim Rado and Jerry Ragni, the creators of the musical, Hair. Experimental indie filmmaker Shirley Clarke arrives from New York, decked out in sunglasses and a loud floppy costume, to make a documentary on the alternative styled trio during her week visit. Clarke offers amusing diatribes on film producers (who pull the plug on her doc) and Bobby Kennedy. Everyone plays themselves and gets a chance to say in their own words whatever about the banality or myth of Hollywood. Other Hollywood luminaries make brief appearances, adding their two cents yo the plotless story.

Nothing great emerges, but the free-form drama has many loopy moments and is very funny. When the actors are spontaneous the film has a nice flow, when they utter Varda’s scripted dialogue the film stiffens. The blend of fiction and documentary gives the film a quirky uniqueness, as Varda shows her great film-making skills by making such a slap-dash film palpable.

The film’s most solid quote has Shirley declaiming: “I don’t know whether I’m in a movie or directing one.”