Vagabond (1985 film)

Vagabond (French: Sans toit ni loi, "with neither shelter nor law") is a 1985 French drama film directed by Agnès Varda, featuring Sandrine Bonnaire. It tells the story of a young woman, a vagabond, who wanders through the Languedoc-Roussillon wine country one winter. The film was the 36th highest-grossing film of the year with a total of 1,080,143 admissions in France.[2]

Theatrical release poster
Directed byAgnès Varda
Produced byOury Milshtein
Written byAgnès Varda
StarringSandrine Bonnaire
Macha Méril
Yolande Moreau
Music byJoanna Bruzdowicz
Fred Chichin
CinematographyPatrick Blossier
Edited byPatricia Mazuy
Agnès Varda
Distributed byMK2 Diffusion
Release date
  • September 1985 (1985-09) (Venice)
  • 4 December 1985 (1985-12-04)
Running time
105 minutes
Box office$8.1 million[1]


The film begins with the contorted body of a young woman lying in a ditch, covered in frost. From this image, an unseen interviewer (Varda) puts the camera on the last men to see her and the one who found her. The action then flashes back to the woman, Mona (Sandrine Bonnaire), walking along the roadside, hiding from the police and trying to get a ride. Along her journey she meets and takes up with other vagabonds as well as a Tunisian vineyard worker, a family of goat farmers, a professor researching trees, and a maid who envies what she perceives to be Mona's beautiful and passionate lifestyle. Mona explains to one of her temporary companions that at one time she had an office job in Paris but became unsettled with the way she was living, and chose instead to wander the country free from any responsibility, picking up what she can to survive as she goes. Her condition seems to worsen until she finally falls where we first saw her, frozen and miserable in a ditch.


  • Sandrine Bonnaire as Mona Bergeron
  • Macha Meril as Mme Landier
  • Yolande Moreau as Yolande
  • Stéphane Freiss as Jean-Pierre
  • Setti Ramdane as Assoun
  • Francis Balchère as Police
  • Jean-Louis Perletti as Police
  • Urbain Causse as Farmer
  • Christophe Alcazar as Farmer
  • Joël Fosse as Paulo
  • Patrick Schmit as Truck Driver
  • Daniel Bos as Demolition Worker
  • Katy Champaud as Girl at the Pump
  • Raymond Roulle as Old Man with Matches
  • Henri Fridlani as The Gravedigger
  • Patrick Sokol as Young Man with Sandwich
  • Pierre Imbert as Mechanic

Critical reception

The movie was acclaimed by critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 100% of 13 critics gave the film a positive review, for an average rating of 8.7/10.[3]


The film combines straightforward narrative scenes, in which we see Mona living her life, with pseudo-documentary sequences in which people who knew Mona turn to the camera and say what they remember about her. Significant events are sometimes left unshown, so that the viewer must piece information together to gain a full picture.

Vagabond was filmed in the departments of Gard, Hérault and Bouches-du-Rhône.[4]

The title

The original French title, Sans toit ni loi ("With neither shelter nor law"), is a play on a common French idiom, "Sans foi ni loi", meaning "With neither faith nor law". It also puns on sans toi ("without you").

Awards and nominations

César Awards 1986Best ActressSandrine BonnaireWon
Best FilmAgnès VardaNominated
Best DirectorAgnès VardaNominated
Best Supporting ActressMacha MérilNominated
French Syndicate of Cinema CriticsBest FilmAgnès VardaWon
Los Angeles Film Critics Association AwardsBest ActressSandrine BonnaireWon
Best Foreign FilmAgnès VardaWon
Sant Jordi AwardsBest Foreign ActressSandrine BonnaireWon
Venice Film FestivalGolden LionAgnès VardaWon
FIPRESCI PrizeAgnès VardaWon
OCIC AwardAgnès VardaWon


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