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

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½ May 9, 2015
Given the fact that some of the scenes here even remind me of L'Avventura, well...Any way, I notice a similarity between Cleo and Catherine Breilat's Fat Girl in the way the films dangle with the audiences' morality. Fat Girl, is, of course, a nasty piece of feminist bitching, but the seeming sweetness of Cleo From 5 to 7 does not discount the fact that, yes, it's a confrontation to traditional representation of females in cinema.
March 22, 2015
You can't go wrong with Agnes Varda
January 24, 2015
Great director, great cast. Can't wait!
May 20, 2014
Tuesday, May 20, 2014

(1962) Cleo From 5 To 7/ Cléo de 5 à 7
(In French with English subtitles)

It's called 'Cleo From 5 To 7' because 7 o'clock is supposed to be the time 'Cleo' (short from Cleopatra) get to know about her diagnosis. At the beginning, shows the radiantly beautiful, Cleo( Corinne Marchand) corresponding with a fortune teller. After Cleo leaves, without telling her what she saw on her hand, the fortune teller then tells the person sitting in the next room(I suspect is her husband) that she doesn't have very much long to live and that she sees death on her because she has cancer. Now, I just want to say that I had to re-watch the beginning a few more times because everything the fortune teller was telling Cleo, is mostly spot on. That she's singer, and that she's living with another woman who acts like a friendly colleague of some sort who is now a widow. As Cleo leaves, we then get to hear what she is thinking, and seems to appreciate her looks, as oppose to looking forward to dying. By the time she meets with her close associate the fortune teller was telling us about before, and she asks her whether it cheered her up. It doesn't, and she starts to sob on her shoulder at a coffee shop. Although, everything we know about Cleo at the start of the movie was very blatant, viewers get to subject more emphasis about her daily life and routine as she corresponds with her boyfriend and song writers, and at the same time we're still oblivious what she's diagnosed with. Viewers are subjected to a lot of nothing as she makes sense of her presence, curious about it's affecting her. throughout the time from 5PM to 7PM, the only other thing I'm going to say is that as Cleo is allowing this questionable illness to bother her, and after the movie was over whatever she was diagnosed with didn't matter much anymore. Written and directed by Agnès Varda this is a excellent examination that had never been done before, except that the only thing I was baffled about, was that despite her being the best looking person, there was only person who approached her and that was during the final 10 or 20 minutes. I mean, you would've thought more single men would've approached her.

3 out of 4 stars
February 26, 2014
the splendid experience of watching a life for two hours!
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.
January 11, 2014
doc like quality to this
April 20, 2013
This is my very first Agnes Varda film, but it will not be my last. Users should be warned that this film is the very definition of New Wave. It concentrates on the life of a single character in nearly real time and she wanders the streets of Paris awaiting the results of medical tests. Given the premise, one might expect that this is a depressing movie, but it actually becomes something of a celebration of life and living by the end. Beautiful photography, and lead Corinne Marchand is luminous.
December 4, 2011
I liked the visual style and the themes - and above all it's quintessential "frenchness", but it did get a bit boring in the middle because it was too character driven and didn't really have a plot - it would have made a great book, but as a movie it fell a bit short in the entertainment department, especially since it pretty much ran in real time.
½ June 29, 2013
Favorite part was the score
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.
April 14, 2013
A bit boring. I felt detached a lot of the time. There were two things that made it worth it for me though: the scene with the short film containing Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina, as well as the ending scene.
March 4, 2013
An introspective look into the fate of Cleo, a young hot blonde singer who finds out she has cancer and the test results will be done in two hours. The film takes place in real time, as Cleo hops from one meeting to the next full of anxiety and worry.

I feel the film doesn't do a good job of focusing on its main character. Its supposed to be about her, and her thoughts and feelings as she waits for the test results. Instead the narrative gets distracted quite a lot in the middle. The movie does find itself back on track near the end and up to the final finish.

Sluggish in the middle but good overall, Cleo from 5 to 7 is a nice little drama.
February 20, 2013
recommended by rubystevens.....
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!
January 18, 2013
A female pop singer restlessly awaits the results of her cancer test. Varda puts a feminine feel to the French New Wave in the quasi real time tale of a woman's restless afternoon, as the camera follows her at breakneck speed and we are drawn to the character's existential ennui, helped by the beautiful cinematography signed by Jean Rabier, who gets the most out of the city of Paris.
November 24, 2012
They say that you are what you are and you are what other people make of you. The protagonist of Agnes Varda's 1962 classic is a little too preoccupied by by the second part. She is a pop singer who had three singles out. They were mildly succesfull, at least according to the reaction of people she meets. They know her name, but not exactly what she lookes like. Somewhere in the middle of climbing the charts, she seems to have lost her personality, if she ever had one in the first place. Suddenly, new people started to appear in her life, and she slowly convinced herself she can't make it without them. They don't exactly aim at using her; in fact, they seem like pretty stand up bunch. It's just that she is a very pleasent person to spend time with, and thay decide to go along.

For us being able to form this kind of a picture is a testiment to Agnes Varda's unique talents. The title of the film, Cleo from 5 to 7 should be taken litteraly. The main character is named Cleo; we follow her life one day from 5 to 7 o'clock. She is a playfull, childish young person who just find out she could be suffering from a serious illnes. Although the medical results are yet to be revealed, she already looks defeated, esspetialy after a rather unpleasent visit to the fortuneteller. Two hours of her life we see are the ones prior to the visit to the doctor, where she is to find out the outcome.

The movie looks great from the first shot, as impressive as any of the early New Wave pictures. Emotionaly, it comes alive at one particular moment. After coming back from the fortunteller, Cleo meets with her personal assistent. They go shoping, which makes her happy. Then they go home, where she indulges in what seems to be the usually routine: short exercise, visit from the insensitive (and rather elderly) personal companion, visit from musical colaborates, all under a supervision of the assistent. Suddenly, she breaks! Finally! Next step is a relief. She puts on her dress, takes off the unnecessary wig and goes outside. Alone!

There, she is finaly stoped being treated like a queen. She has a chance to confront the fears of the destiny making meeting she is to attend on her own. She does that by wondering the gorgeus Parisian streets. In a caffee house she enters, everything is quiet. The routine conversations people lead look like an attack on her personality. The silence is unbereable. She turns the jukebox. It's one of her songs. Nobody reacts in an aproving way. One customer even complains to her conversation partner about the noise. They all have problems of their own, which don't became any smaller just because she is present, regardless of the fact she might be dying. She is more and more aware on what she's been missing all this time.

I have to say the essence of this film is not easy to explain. I now see my clumsy depiction might create an impression that this is a calculated film, designed to make us, the audience, became aware of the values of living life to the fullest. No! If anything, Varda creates an impression of not even being aware that someone is going to wach the film. Her consurns lie only on the protagonist. As she wanders the streets, meets different kinds of people, interacts with them in a way which far outshines the pure spoken words, the most beautiful thing happens - we gradually develop comlete emotional involvment, without the breaking of an impartial narrative. That feeling grows until the last 20 minutes, which are a true beauty of delicate, warm, lightly poetic dialogue.

I'm shocked to learn that the lead acctres never became famous, esspecialy compared to other New Wave icons (she invites obvious comaparations to Anna Karina from Godard's My Life to Live; both Karina and Godard appear briefly). Corinne Marchand is her name (see what I meen), and she has a character impossible to simply lift from the paper. Her physical and mental involment is absolutely crucial. Without it, she could come out as cartoonish, spoiled brat and the film would fall in that most dangerous of situations: gaining our attention simply because she is faced with a possible death sentence. Merchand, as well as Varda's camera make her sweet, life - loving and almost crying for enough bravery to get rid of her charming insecurities. The line between those two is thiner than you could imagine.

The biggest succes Varda accomplished is showing us two hours in the life of a person who just happens to be a woman. Not that she flipped a coin to esstablish the sex of the protagonist. There was, off course a clear idea behind that, fully revived on the screen. I'm referencing the feminist aspect of the picture, and the awkwardness which comes with the mere mention of it. Eventhough her womanhood is brought in all its glory, Cleo remained sexless in our assement of her possabilities. That means that, sure, you can look at her as a victim of "phallocentric society with its gender divisions deeply rooted in dogmatic past" (not a direct quote, I'm just trying to get into a mind of a feminist writer). Or as a human being whose potentials far surpas "meets the eye". I don't have any doubts as to where I stand.
November 16, 2012
Elegant in its setting, simple in its plot and brilliant in its pacing and execution, "Cleo from 5 to 7" is perhaps the only film I've ever seen that performs its entirety in real-time (or close to it).
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