One Sings, the Other Doesn't

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One Sings, the Other Doesn't
Directed byAgnès Varda
Screenplay byAgnès Varda
Produced byCiné Tamaris
StarringThérèse Liotard
Valérie Mairesse
Ali Raffi
Robert Dadiès
CinematographyCharlie Van Damme
Music byFrançois Werthmeimer
Distributed byCiné-Tamaris
Release date
1977 (France)
Running time
116 minutes

One Sings, the Other Doesn't (French: L'une chante, l'autre pas) is a 1977 French film written and directed by Agnès Varda that focuses on the lives of two women against the backdrop of the Women's Movement in 1970s France.


Pauline (Valérie Mairesse), a schoolgirl studying for her baccalaureate, wanders into a gallery and recognizes an old friend, Suzanne (Thérèse Liotard), in one of the photographs displayed. Suzanne has two children with the photographer and is expecting a third which she cannot afford to keep. In order to help raise funds for an abortion, Pauline lies to her parents about a school trip, and when they find out, she leaves home and begins working as a singer. The photographer commits suicide and Suzanne moves away to live with her parents on their farm. The two women lose touch for ten years but are reunited at a demonstration in 1972 and begin to correspond by postcard. Pauline, now known as Pomme (French: Apple), moves to Iran with her boyfriend Darius (Ali Rafie), but becomes dissatisfied with her life there and returns to France. Suzanne leaves the farm and opens a family planning clinic in Hyères, where she marries a local doctor.


Critical reception[edit]

The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 80% of critics gave the film mainly positive reviews based on 15 reviews.[1]

Roger Ebert, awarded the film four out of four stars and praised the film for its simplicity, its portrayal of the leading female characters' friendship and Varda's direction:

Varda’s title is a perfect one (and even more melodic in French: “L’une chante, l’autre pas”). Here we have them, she says: Two women, friends, and one sings and the other doesn’t, but they’ll remain friends and sisters for all of their lives. The movie’s final passages are among the best. Pomme comes with her child and friends to spend some time on the farm, and so several generations are brought together as the two friends approach the middles of their lives. There’s a picnic, and kids playing, and wine, and singing (but of too many songs), and what Varda’s doing, in a sneaky way, is making her case for feminism in a lyric voice instead of a preachy one.[2]

Justin Chang, in a glowing review wrote:

To describe Varda’s picture as an ardent tribute to the never-not-timely subjects of women’s liberation and solidarity is to risk making it sound awfully schematic. But if “One Sings, the Other Doesn’t” is something of a thesis movie, that thesis takes shape gently, with equal parts documentary grit and dreamlike evanescence.[3]


  1. ^ "One Sings, The Other Doesn't". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved November 17, 2020.
  2. ^ Ebert, Roger (March 16, 1978). "One Sings, the Other Doesn't". Chicago Sun-Times.
  3. ^ Chang, Justin (July 23, 2018). "Review: Agnès Varda's 1977 film 'One Sings, the Other Doesn't' is a charmingly offbeat rabble-rouser". Los Angeles Times.

External links[edit]