The Beaches of Agnès is a kind of companion piece to The Gleaners and I. This time around, Agnès Varda is gleaning more extensively from her own life, but any resemblance to a biopic, or autobiopic, is somewhat offset by the way in which she tends to treat her own memories and experiences as if she’s stumbling across their sustenance for the first time, right down to discovering a pair of old photographs of herself and husband Jacques Demy at an old flea-market in southern France. For the most part, the film proceeds chronologically, but it quickly confounds any sense that Varda’s life and work are operating independently of one another, as a seemingly endless series of ingenious and irreverent re-enactments tends to cut against the splendid isolation of her earlier mise-en-scenes, even in the midst of her most canonical films and personal crises. As in Gleaners, the film’s more or less sustained by the artless irreverance with which she moves from one preoccupation, passion or distraction to another, without a trace of either irony or the knowing oblivion that might pass for twee, focusing on her interests – it’s hard to think of a director who’s more interested than Varda – with a sincerity that’s quite mercurial, the sincerity of someone who wore a camera on their sleeve pretty much their whole life, whether or not they happened to be officially shooting a film. Although there are moments of real and enduring grief, they’re untouched by nostalgia, while Varda’s activist rage never feels separate from her joy in everything she’s agitating for. Drifting into the world of “senior citizens and beyond” – the film was released on the eve of her eightieth birthday – she’s somehow able to puncture the pretensions of all her dreams while leaving dreams open to anyone else who might still want to have them, discarding the detritus of her life as she sifts through it even as she remains “willing to enter a reverie” with any object that might still speak to her, or listen to her. More like an eccentric, marginal directorial commentary on her film-life than a film or a life in itself, it’s the perfect swansong for a figure who came of age in an “age of questions” and never stopped asking them, whether in Sète, Nantes, Venice Beach or any of the other windy, watery expanses that anchor this beautiful web of associations and ruminations.