She is nearly 90; he is 34. She worked with Jean-Luc Godard; he looks like Jean-Luc Godard (and, much to Varda’s consternation, will similarly not take off his sunglasses). And yet, the movie is barely five minutes old before it’s clear that these two are a screen duo for the ages.
From the charmingly animated opening credits, to the whimsical voiceover in which Varda and JR imagine all the places they might have met—cue footage of Varda dancing in a nightclub—the pair establish an instant rapport that feels too perfect to be faked. In regards to both their chemistry and its context, they come across like less competitive, more huggable versions of Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan (though it’s hard to say which is which).
Varda has always possessed a warm and compulsively watchable screen presence, and the pint-sized iconoclast still has more pep in her step than most of us have ever had. JR is the real variable here, and everything about him makes you brace for a douchebag; between the arrogant scale of his art and the affectedness of his appearance, the young artist seems like nothing but trouble.
Fortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth. JR is an absolute joy, and the playful relationship he develops with Varda makes you sad for all the years of her life that they didn’t know each other.
- David Ehrlich, Indiewire, 22 May 2017