Vagabond (1985 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Agnès Varda
Written byAgnès Varda
Produced byOury Milshtein
Starring Sandrine Bonnaire
Macha Méril
Yolande Moreau
Cinematography Patrick Blossier
Edited by Patricia Mazuy
Agnès Varda
Music by Joanna Bruzdowicz
Fred Chichin
Distributed byMK2 Diffusion
Release dates
  • September 1985 (1985-09)(Venice)
  • 4 December 1985 (1985-12-04)
Running time
105 minutes
Box office$8.1 million [1]

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 premiered at the 42nd Venice International Film Festival, where it won the Golden Lion. Vagabond was nominated for four César Awards, with Bonnaire winning Best Actress. The film was the 36th highest-grossing film of the year with a total of 1,080,143 admissions in France. [2]



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, walking along the roadside, hiding from the police and trying to get a ride. Along her journey she takes up with other vagabonds as well as a Tunisian vineyard worker, a family of goat farmers, an agronomy professor, 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 was a secretary in Paris but became unsettled with the way she was living, choosing instead to wander the country, free from any responsibility. Her condition worsens until she finally falls where we first encounter herin a ditch, frozen to death.


Critical reception

The film was acclaimed by critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 100% of 20 critics gave the film a positive review, for an average rating of 8.8/10. [3]


Vagabond 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.

It 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 Best Film Agnès Varda Nominated
Best DirectorAgnès VardaNominated
Best Actress Sandrine Bonnaire Won
Best Supporting Actress Macha Méril Nominated
French Syndicate of Cinema Critics Best FilmAgnès VardaWon
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards Best Foreign FilmAgnès VardaWon
Best ActressSandrine BonnaireWon
National Society of Film Critics Awards Best ActressSandrine BonnaireNominated
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Foreign Language FilmAgnès VardaNominated
Sant Jordi Awards Best Foreign ActressSandrine BonnaireWon
Venice Film Festival Golden Lion Agnès VardaWon
Volpi Cup for Best Actress Sandrine Bonnaire [lower-alpha 1]
FIPRESCI PrizeAgnès VardaWon
OCIC AwardAgnès VardaWon


  1. This award was not assigned. The jury deemed the best performances to be Sandrine Bonnaire (Sans toit ni loi) and Jane Birkin ( Dust ), but decided against awarding the prize as both films won major awards. They also gave a special mention to three other actresses for their performances. [5]

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  1. JP. "Sans toît ni loi (1985)- JPBox-Office".
  2. JP. "Sans toît ni loi (1985)- JPBox-Office".
  3. "Sans Toit ni Loi (Vagabond) (Without Roof or Rule)".
  4. "Vagabond (1985) - IMDb" via
  5. Dionne Jr., E. J. (7 September 1985). "Venice Festival Awards Top Prize to Varda Film". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 16 December 2022. Retrieved 16 December 2022.