Agnes Varda began her storied career with this intriguing mutt of a movie, part social realism and part forerunner of the French New Wave. Set in the southern French fishing town of La Pointe Courte, the movie vacillates between documentary-like depictions of work and family life and an ongoing, esoteric dialogue in which a young couple (Philippe Noiret and Silvia Monfort) debate whether or not they should stay together. It’s largely a matter of personal taste, but I found the former elements to be much more compelling than the latter. Already an accomplished photographer, Varda’s eye for shape, shade, and the way they interact in a frame turns each corner of this village into a captivating composition. (She pays particular attention to forms of wood, from stumps to fences to fishing poles, and the geometric spaces they create.) There is composition at play with the couple, as well, but some of these scenes have a forced aesthetic—a shot of them separated by a log that dramatically bisects the screen, for instance—rather than the unpredictability of found art. The dialogue, meanwhile, points ahead to the abstract self-consciousness of something like Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless. “The bonds between us are stronger than we are,” she tells him near the film’s end. A lovely sentiment, better expressed in the slices of life we see going on in the background (including a different young couple negotiating infatuation and tradition), than by the many words spoken by Noiret and Monfort.