“Miss Jasmine! I have a package for you!” The 14-year-old girl with braces takes a break from milking the goat. Her local postman has delivered a surprise. She opens it up. Out floats a magical magenta ball dress ten times her teenage size. “I am curious,” she says, and enters the folds of the dress. From here, Jasmine⎯headstrong, a dreamer, a realist⎯takes us on a modern anti-fairy tale through caves and stalagmites, streets and shop windows, obsessions and everyday empowerment.
Les 3 Boutons is directed by the legendary 87-year-old Agnès Varda, considered by many as forerunner to French New Wave cinema, and winner of the first honorary Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival this year. Les 3 Boutons marks the 10th commission from Miu Miu Women’s Tales, the acclaimed short-film series by women who critically celebrate femininity in the 21st century.
This latest addition is a signature work from Varda’s unique world. It’s full of playful hallmarks from her six decades of making films which include the groundbreaking La Pointe Courte (1955), Cléo de 5 à 7 (1961), Sans toit ni loi (1985) and Les Plages d’Agnès (2009).
“It’s playing a game with reality,” Varda says. “The game is called cinema.”
Les 3 Boutons’ lead is newcomer Jasmine Thiré, and it was shot on location in Bonnieux and also rue Daguerre, Paris, where Varda has lived for 50 years. The story gently reverses the clichés of girlhood. Jasmine prefers school uniform and education to the easy allure of a Cinderella lifestyle.
“I immediately saw the contradictory juxtaposition of farm life and haute couture,” explains Varda. “The most minimal element, the most essential one is the button. 3…2…1…go!” As the three buttons gradually fall from Jasmine’s dress, each full of promise and change, we realize that Varda’s description of “a young girl discovering herself” applies just as much to the ageless director as it does to the inquisitive protagonist.