Curtis White at Literary Hub:
In the same season that Human Flow was making the rounds of art house theaters in the United States, the great French Nouvelle Vague filmmaker Agnès Varda was collaborating with the artist JR on Faces Places (Visages, Villages). In the film, Varda and JR (like Weiwei, an installation artist) travel rural France meeting with waitresses, mailmen, miners, and factory workers, and photographing them in JR’s mobile photo booth. These portraits are then enlarged and pasted to the buildings that they work and live in—barns, abandoned homes, shipping containers—creating dramatic pop-up artworks.
As with Human Flow, Faces Places is disarmingly non-ideological, although there is every opportunity for making familiar political judgments. Everyone seems involved in one social ill or another: pollution, industrial farming, cruelty to animals, global shipping of consumer goods, etc., but the filmmakers do not hold the people responsible for the economic mechanisms within which they have no choice except to work. Rather, the people and, to a degree, the economic mechanisms are accepted as they are. They are real.