The film opens on the scene of a bare vineyard, it's winter, and a worker is collecting vines off the ground after pruning. He suddenly comes upon a woman, sprawled dead in the frost covered ditch, nothing but an old dirty blanket on her back. Her face is contorted with pain from the cold she suffered. Her hair looks almost gray from being frozen.
The police come to investigate, she's got no identification with her.
But as the film progresses we learn her name is Mona, short for Simone. In flash backs we see her traveling like a leaf on the wind, never staying in one place for too long, hitching rides, and pitching her tent. Bumming cigarettes, and getting water and bread (sometimes dope) from kind strangers, a few she gets to know, but they never really figure out who she is. But, they agree as they talk to the camera, she's someone they'll never forget.
The film takes place during winter, Mona says she likes to travel then because there aren't that many people out, and it's easier to get a ride. Those who she meets, are mostly good, but some bad. She experiences the perils of a young woman traveling alone. Hunger, cold, rape... She isn't a naive street urchin, but a gritty character, tough and defiant.
I found Mona, so endearing and painfully haunting. I became more and more sad, to know she had died. And when that tragic moment came, I couldn't help but cry a little. Sandrine Bonnaire made her seem so real. And I love how the movie was shot. Told in flashbacks, by the people who had known her, however briefly. They speak directly to the camera. A very powerful film, very poignant and absolutely haunting.
Filmed in Nimes, France. In the stark landscape of mid-winter. Anges Varda's masterpiece. Sandrine Bonnaire won the Cesar award for best actress. Even though it's sad and ends (and begins) with tragedy, I am definitely going watch it again.
This film deserves no less than five stars!