Cleo from 5 to 7. Cleo From 5 to 7 (1962)

Cleo From 5 to 7 (1962)

cleo from 5 to 7

The war greatly affected France during the 1950s and 1960s, where the demands for decolonization were the strongest. Upon returning home, Cléo cannot breathe, and Angèle tells her to do some exercise. Returning to her Montparnasse home, Cléo is visited by her lover, a busy man who can offer her only a moment of polite concern. Angèle helps her change into her clothes for rehearsal while Cléo is stretching out on a pull-up bar. Her lover, a musician accompanist, a female friend, and then a soldier open up her eyes to the world. We aren't Tarot readers, but they look alarming to us.

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Film review: Cléo from 5 to 7

cleo from 5 to 7

In the interval, she visits a fortune-teller and is horrified when the tarot cards confirm her fears. Once Cléo's lover leaves, Bob, a , and Maurice, a writer, arrive at her home for her rehearsal. I have been guilty of that myself. Yet, via the dialectic of real time and passionate time, the mundane and the hyperreal, Varda also creates a complex double focus, leaping as Tailleur observed from the here and now to eternity, to a cosmic vision. You will receive a weekly newsletter full of movie-related tidbits, articles, trailers, even the occasional streamable movie. She visits her friend Dorothée, an artist's model, and together they deliver some film to Dorothée's lover, a motion picture projectionist.

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Film Notes

cleo from 5 to 7

The fortune teller also sees that Cléo has recently met a generous young man, which she confirms, claiming that she doesn't see him too often, but he got her into the music industry. Rather, Varda seizes the kind of immediacy and tension associated, at the start of the sixties, with the cinema verité documentary movement and uses it to create a new form of fiction. This tongue twister of a conceit is a joy to unpack. Cléo wants to wear the hat home, but Angèle reminds her that it's Tuesday, and it's bad luck to wear something new on a Tuesday. Her narratives were frequently nonlinear, emphatically so, in an era when this was automatically an experimental gesture in cultural politics. Cléo's awareness of that deepens a film that is otherwise about mostly trivial events.

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Film Notes

cleo from 5 to 7

Cléo seems a shallow enough woman that these portents depress her. As she plays singer, lover and shopper of hats, she is playing always a woman who expects to be told she has stomach cancer. The soldier who Cléo meets towards the end of the film, Antoine, is on temporary leave from fighting in Algeria. Bob goes to the piano, and they begin to practice some of Cléo's songs. On a superficial level, the story is about a beautiful, self-absorbed singer awaiting medical test results, afraid she may be mortally ill. The fortune teller then says that she will meet a talkative young man.

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Cléo from 5 to 7

cleo from 5 to 7

Apprehension, boredom, desire—the film is a succession of these emotional states that, taken together, pose a countertime, a time of the heart. With each new exposure to an incomprehensible human behavior—whether through art, media, or firsthand experience—a layer of innocence is peeled away. Cléo tells him that she's ill, but he doesn't take her seriously. The most wonderful thing about Cléo from 5 to 7 is its air of freedom, evoked, paradoxically, within the very severe constraints of its real-time format, which must have posed a thousand challenges during shooting and postproduction. The impending results of her medical exam and the mere possibility that she may be diagnosed with cancer leaves Cléo open to an existential mind where she is aware of her own mortality. Consider the sequence near the end. And yet it would be hard to find a filmmaker of even many years younger than Varda who is less uncompromising in pursuit of an individual style.

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Cléo from 5 to 7

cleo from 5 to 7

And, in doing so, it transforms Cléo herself from a distracted, self-obsessed entertainer into someone whose fate we fix on and care about. He projects a short comedy film for them, and Cléo momentarily forgets her anxiety. For the first time in at least two hours, Cléo seems to be happy as she looks at Antoine. It is clear what her films share with those Right Bank, more mainstream new wavers: a breathtaking ability to swing in a moment from light to dark, comic to dramatic moods, and a taste for the handheld camera, capturing on-the-run scenes shot spontaneously in the streets of Paris. They visit a shop where Cléo views herself in a mirror, obtaining reassurance that she is still young and beautiful, and buys a hat. The two kittens, which Varda somehow succeeds in including within the frame, are like props in a silly musical. But she may seem even more peculiarly modern to a twenty-first-century audience, a truly prophetic apparition: with her celebrity narcissism, and her taste for tarot readings and various other superstitions, Cléo could well be a Paris Hilton type, plugged into new-age fads at one point, logically enough, Madonna was attached to a proposed remake.

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Cléo from 5 to 7: Passionate Time

cleo from 5 to 7

Her journey may be simple and straightforward on the geographic level——into cabs, through parks, stopping off at cafés and studios——but on the emotional level it gets deeper as it goes, accumulating reminders of mortality such as the African masks she spies in a shopwindow and stumbling upon unexpected epiphanies. The role is more difficult than it might appear, and Corinne Marchand better in it than she may have been credited for. But if the film were only a virtuosic formal exercise, or a cleverly choreographed stroll through a city, it would probably not have endured as the remarkable, affecting testament that it is. Cléo realizes that that describes her perfectly. In the course of those ninety minutes she changes on a profound level, and here is where I feel the film helps me live better.

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Film Notes

cleo from 5 to 7

Her face is framed by a cap of shining hair. And yet all this time Cléo's awareness of her mortality vibrates like a soft bass drum beneath the surface. Unlike traditional story films, which skip everywhere in both time and space, Varda gives us a gauntlet: every second piling up, every step traced out. There are also protests on the street that Cléo encounters while taking a taxi back to her home. In another cafe, two lovers are breaking up, for example.

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