Cleo From 5 to 7 (Cléo de 5 à 7) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Cleo From 5 to 7 (Cléo de 5 à 7) Reviews

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Super Reviewer
February 23, 2016
Varda's direction is impeccable, with a wonderful attention to the mise-en-scène, camera movements and use of mirrors to show an absorbing real-time hour-and-a-half (not two hours as the title indicates) in the life of a narcissistic singer forced to face the emptiness of her life.
Super Reviewer
½ April 22, 2008
an absolute delight and my current favorite french new wave. wonderful energy and amazing camerawork as we follow a rather shallow popstar in real time as she tries to come to terms with her life while wandering the streets of paris. vive le varda!
Super Reviewer
½ December 7, 2008
while the plot is quite simple, a young capricious woman awaiting test results, this is filmmaking at its finest. varda creates a new fiction by merging real time, cinema verite, and multiperspectives. WOW!
Super Reviewer
½ June 15, 2008
This is from the Criterion Film Collection. I guess its because I am not french or maybe its just a bad run of French Films lately but I think I am going to pass on the french films for a while, I tried I really did, good Black and white background scenes, but is was painfull to hang in there till the end.
Super Reviewer
April 22, 2008
This film starts Cleo off a rich, spoiled brat, and ends up finding both love and a certain joie de vivre (pardon my fronch). Cleo is a beautiful but somewhat shallow pop singer nervously waiting for the results of a cancer test. The film follows Cléo for two hours as she encounters the important people in her career as well as strangers she meets in between. Real life seems to continue with documentary styled filmmaking that is about looking and being looked at.
Super Reviewer
January 20, 2014
This was my first encounter with Agnes Varda's work in the sixties. Being impressed with later documentary pieces, I was not surprised to find a terribly watchable film that outlines a mere two hours in the life of one singer.
Super Reviewer
November 4, 2009
While waiting for the result of a biopsy, the French singer Cléo, visits a fortune teller; drinks coffee and buys a new hat with her housekeeper; is visited by her lover and her composers; visits her model friend Dorothée; learning much from her, who poses nude for sculptors, and a passing soldier named Antoine whom she meets by accident in the park. We follow her for these two hours of her life, as she cruises through the streets of Paris on foot, by cars and taxis, from one place to the next. She finally, becomes a subject instead of being an object: Cleo's progress through the film develops from an almost narcissistic preoccupation with her own image- the first part of the film is full of mirrors and reflections- through a more direct encounter with that world and its inhabitants.
Super Reviewer
March 4, 2009
Cleo from 5 to 7 was initially baffling, but it's making more sense now I'm getting to know the French New Wave.
Super Reviewer
March 28, 2008
French New Wave film about the working of fear into acceptance, set in real time and makes innovative use of reflective images. This is also fantastic snapshot of Parisian streets circa 1962, filmed with such grace and style, you feel as if you've been there.
Super Reviewer
½ January 14, 2009
Fantastic film from the grandmother of the French New Wave. The opening is a knockout with Cleo (or is it Flora?) visiting a fortuneteller to find out her fate. Over the next 90 minutes (told in real time with title cards announcing the time periods) Cleo basically lives her daily, spoiled life while the omen of death is always near by. Despite this though, it's a really nice film in the end. Just a great film.
½ April 16, 2016
Agnes Varda's French New Wave classic is entertaining and not as mundane as some of the other films in this genre.
½ September 27, 2012
What starts off as one of the greatest films I've ever seen, begins to fade and fizzle to a film that's merely excellent. It's another gem from the New Wave.
½ November 21, 2012
This Left-Bank French film starring Corinne Marchand, follows a young singer in a real time as she waits to get back the results which will prove if she has cancer or not. The film has a unique color opening where the superstitious Cleo has her future foretold. The rest of the film follows her as she anxiously waits on her results. To pass the time she buys a new hat, rides in a taxi through Paris with her housekeeper, and also goes to a café. Returning to her flat, we see how privileged and spoiled Cleo is, first being visited by her busy boyfriend and then her joking composters. However, all the while she is constantly being reminded of what she is waiting for and what her fate might be. Cleo then meets with a friend who models and they drive through Paris together. Finally, she ends up at a park and in a quiet spot she becomes involved with a talkative soldier on leave from Algeria. They eventually take the bus to the hospital and she frantically tires to hear her results. Then, abruptly everything is okay and Cleo or Florence as we now know her, can continue living her life in relative peace. This film has many aspects of the New Wave with its often Chic Parisian atmosphere and a camera that constantly seems to be on the move. A memorable moment includes the silent picture starring Jean Luc Godard with Anna Karina.
June 21, 2013
One salient feature of the narrative that struck me was that it was portrayed in real time. The film is literally a chain of events, which is rare for European Art Cinema. I was also very intrigued and impressed to learn that Agnes Varda shot her film in chronological order.

The real time of the film results in a lot of dead time. This not only fits in with European Art Cinema, but also adds a sense of reality to the film because any hour and a half of a person's life is not going to be entirely filled with action and drama and romance. What I love about Varda's film is that although she only has an hour and a half of real time to transform a character and have her overcome her dramatic conflict, a sense of urgency is never reflected in the film. The film has an unhurried feel to it. Things happen as they may. We linger on seemingly unimportant events like Cleo trying on several hats, or the taxi ride in which Cleo and Angele listen to radio and talk to the driver, or the child playing the toy piano on the street, or the street performer eating frogs. While all of these events do little to advance the narrative, in that they do not provide character motivation or causality, they do provide "slices of life" in Paris, characteristic of European Art Cinema.

And of course, there is the much debated question of what happens to Cleo from 6:30 - 7:00 PM, because the film is titled Cleo from 5 to 7, yet we are denied viewing the events of 6:30 - 7:00. As the audience, we know the film chronicles Cleo in real time, yet we are denied the last half hour of this segment of her life, which we were essentially promised by the title of the film. I'm not going to speculate on what happens to Cleo, because this ending is another aspect of European Cinema in that it is open-ended. It is open for interpretation. No one knows what happens. Not even Agnes Varda.

One salient stylistic feature that struck me was the interspersed use of subjective cinematography. Although Cleo is at times selfish and vain, we feel a connection with her, largely enforced because we are shown her subjective experiences. When Cleo descends the staircase after her tarot reading, there are several shots from her point of view as she walks down the stairs. These shaky shots, combined with the following jump cuts of her face, cause us to feel Cleo's anxiety.

But, just as we are beginning to sympathize with Cleo, we are shown point of view shots of her looking at hats. The camera shifting rapidly from hat to hat is motivated by her eye movement. We are reminded that although Cleo deserves our sympathy, she also deserves our contempt for living a lavish and superficial lifestyle. Similarly, when Cleo sings in her apartment with the pianist and songwriter, we are shown a subjective experience of Cleo. The camera slowly moves to adjust to Cleo framed with only the black wall in the background. Non-diegetic orchestra music accompanies the piano and Cleo's voice. This creates the sensation that Cleo is singing in a studio, or even on a television program, when we know that she is, in reality, standing inside her apartment. Cleo is imagining herself singing elsewhere.

Yet we are once again sympathetic with Cleo when she leaves the cafe, realizing that no one is interested in listening to her song. We feel her isolation and disappointment from her point of view, as people stare strangely and directly (at Cleo) into the camera. The shots of random people on the street are followed by flashes of people Cleo knows posing. These shots must be subjective, because they do not fit within the real-time of the film. There are several other subjective shots, including Cleo making her way through the sculpting class and Cleo watching her friend's short. While it is surreal to watch someone else's subjective experience on screen, it is also realistic, in that it provides us with a glimpse of Cleo's internal world.
October 9, 2012
Sorry, this movie was all about style over substance. This seemed to be a greatest hits of the French New Wave. Instead of making the style her own, the director chose to toss in every trick in the book for no reason at all (split screen, jump cuts, mix of color and black and white). The messy style really made it hard for me to care for the characters.

They were all on the dumps anyway and the actors didn't seem to be too passionate. A movie like this works only if we care about the characters (especially the lead!), but they all bored me. The main character was a melodramatic mess and each scene dragged on an on. The narrative annoyed me as well. I hated every second involving the people in this movie and the fact that the movie was shot in real time (90 agonizing minutes) made it even worse. The titles in between scenes showing the time and names of the characters in the scene really made things drag. In essence, this movie's over the top flashy style distracted me from the already weak subject matter of the film. Watching this movie was absolute dread for me.
March 21, 2012
A classic of the French New Wave, with the title character's uncertainty about her imminent future weighing down upon her in real time. The final sequence with the stranger is what makes the film work.
December 17, 2011
I didn't like the first 30 or so minutes of this at all. But from that point on the movie got better and better by each scene. I think it has alot to do with the character of Cleo. She's so vain and self-centered in the beginning but as the movie goes on she gets stronger and i really cheered for her. The photography of Paris is gorgeous.
½ August 13, 2010
Varda captures a doubt-plagued 2 hours in the life of pop singer in almost real time (2 hours are condensed to 1 1/2 hours) as she awaits the results of medical exam that will reveal whether or not she has cancer. Simultaneously existential and humorous, Cleo from 5 to 7 explores the superficialy of culture and of the majority of our relationships, for Cleo's only meaningful relationship ends up coming from a complete stranger. A beautifully shot tour of Paris, Cleo enchants while exploring a particularly angsty two hours in the life of its female protagonist. Not to be missed by students of the New Wave or the history of cinema.
March 27, 2010
Recording Artist's 'Bad Hair Day'

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Agnes Varda's 'Cleo from 5 to 7' is the story of Cleo, a relatively unknown pop artist, with a few songs on the radio to her credit, who now faces the very real possibility that she might be suffering from terminal cancer. We follow Cleo in real time, wandering around Paris, waiting for the results of medical tests that will inform her (and the viewer) of her physician's fateful diagnosis.

Varda condenses Cleo's journey of anxiety from the two hours of the title (5 to 7) to an actual hour and a half. We learn from the documentary "Remembrances" (which can be found as part of the DVD extras in the Criterion Collection) that anytime a clock was shown during the film, it would accurately reflect the time elapsed in Cleo's journey.

The film begins with Cleo's visit to a Tarot Card reader who reinforces her belief that indeed the diagnosis will turn out to be cancer. Cleo's bad mood is made even worse when two songwriters (one played by a very young Michel LeGrand) come over and tease her as if she's a ten year old child. Cleo stalks out of her apartment and grows more self-absorbed (she plays one of her own songs on a jukebox in a café, expecting to get noticed by the patrons only to find herself ignored by them).

Varda focuses on Cleo's internal strife as opposed to developing any kind of compelling conflict between the quirky characters she encounters. For most of the film, Cleo is presented as shallow and narcissistic?it's hard to like her at all. Instead, Varda is content to draw us into the sights and sounds of a bustling urban landscape. The film is full of snippets of conversation including long forgotten news items (a gift from Khurschev to JFK is mentioned over the car radio) along with non-actors filmed eating their lunch as the fictional story unfolds before our eyes.

Despite a plethora of vignettes, there's very little story arc in 'Cleo'. For me, the ending was a bit of a cop out. After all the self-hatred, Cleo's mood changes from positively dour to semi-exuberant. All it takes is the companionship of sweet-talking Antoine, the soldier just back from Algeria, who knows how to 'treat her like a lady' coupled with her oncologist's terse pronouncement that two months of chemotherapy will make her into a new woman! How many people do you know who are positively giddy after being told that they're facing two months of chemo? Varda clearly wants all of us to give 'Cleo' a 'pass'. All the shallowness, the self-absorption of this character is nothing more than a portrait of a woman under extreme stress. Cleo is to be forgiven since she's 'not in her right mind'. Wouldn't you be having a 'bad hair day' if you were facing a cancer diagnosis? Varda doesn't want us to judge Cleo's book by its unhinged cover (remember, it's not REALLY her!).

More interesting than the film itself is the documentary "Remembrances". I found it fascinating seeing what the actors look like after all these years. It's hard to believe that the film's stars, Marchand and Bourseiller, had not seen each other since the making of the film back in 1961. You'll also get to see how much has changed (and how much as remained the same) in terms of the Parisian landscape over the years.

Cleo from 5 to 7 often feels more like a documentary than a fictional narrative. I marvel at the cinematography which appears to be way ahead of its time. But clearly 'Cleo' has been placed on an undeserved pedestal in the pantheon of art house fare. Without compelling conflict, Cleo falls back on the internal arc of a stressed out, petulant pop singer. And despite all the nice visuals, I keep asking, why should anyone care?
March 8, 2010
A whimsical, dark fable. The streets of Paris look alive even though death is everywhere. I suppose the film within this film tells it all: "EVERYTHING WAS DARK BECAUSE I WAS WEARING SUNGLASSES" (sic).

It all boils down to how you see a thing.
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