Toward the end of Jane B. par Agnès V., Jane Birkin turns to Agnès Varda, who sits on a staircase while stroking a cat, and says: “Why don’t we shoot a family project?” An initial irony emerges: Jane B. par Agnès V. is already a family project, staging Birkin’s life as a “public fantasy” or “an imaginary biopic,” as Varda later called it, in order to explore the many dimensions of Birkin’s star persona. However, a further irony takes hold once the pair starts batting around ideas. They settle on a premise where Birkin’s character, a 40-year-old single mom, will fall for the 14-year-old friend of her daughters, to be played by Mathieu Demy, Varda’s real-life son.
This brief premise is the basic narrative for Kung-Fu Master!, a film Varda made in tandem with this one, and the final irony, within the course of Jane B. par Agnès V., is that sequences from the other film play over their discussion of various, imagined scenes. The effect is something of a paradox, since there are two characters conceptualizing something that is already fully formed and completed. Their imaginings of what the film might look manifest as actual scenes from the other film. In all likelihood, Varda shot Kung-Fu Master! first, then shot and cut Jane B. par Agnès V. with the retroactive knowledge of what lay ahead, which would make it, in effect, a kind of prequel, for lack of a better term, to the other film.