3-4. I'm somewhat torn. As is characteristic of notable New Wave films, 'Cleo' is evocative from beginning to end, sporting evocations about fluidity of identity (the hats), death (shattered mirrors), and women commodified (the cat). But as is also characteristic of these films, the plot is comparatively simple and kind of aimless, redeemed by a simple, but palpable exorcism of fear about death.
Cléo de 5 à 7 ressemble plus à une dérive situationniste chère à Debord qu'à une ode au hasard cher à Breton et aux surréalistes. C'est cette incroyable balade à l'écoute d'un Paris qui n'existe plus, qui transforme la frivole Cléo, toute à son égo, à sa délibération intérieure, et l'ouvre à l'amour. Et pour sublimer l'ensemble, la caméra de Varda, comme un précipité de modernité. Quelle transfiguration !
The way Varda uses excerpts of dialogue from conversations of passers-by gives this an authentic feel. We could be spending 90 minutes with any of these people and they would have similar thoughts and anxieties. Cleo listens in on a couple in a café seemingly coming to the end of their relationship, nothing seems more trivial when you feel death is near.
I missed the end of this but it doesn't matter. Cléo is galvanised by the societal stamp of beauty "I am more alive than others", but physical illness threatens that directly. Realising that; "infatuation Cléo garners is not based on any substantial qualities, allowing interest for her to deplete rapidly" - nyflaneur, she realises she has no one. She removes her trappings and takes an earnest look at Paris for once.
Brilliantly constructed and filmed, our close accompaniment of Cléo brings us into that indeterminate space, shared by the supporting characters, where we become aware of and question our ambivalence towards her vulnerability and narcissism. Few films examine so intelligently how we objectify female beauty and none I can think of do it with such effortless class.
Paris sparkles in Agnès Varda's New Wave gem Cléo from 5 to 7. Shot in sumptuous monochrome, Corinne Marchand's titular heroine takes you on a lyrical tour through the streets of Paris. Varda captures the minutiae of 60's Parisian life with the kind of formal mastery and stylistic aplomb characteristic of the nouvelle vague. There are so many magical moments in this film. I love love loved it.
Focusing on a character (played by Corinne Marchand) that somehow lights up the screen, this is an enjoyable snapshot of a woman who seems to have everything while she worries that ill health will claim her in her prime. What could have been tiresome and irritating is handled well by writer/director Agnes Varda.
Along with this film and most of her other films, Varda has become one of my favorite directors of all times. It is a simple but at the same time a profound film depicting a person's hardest hours and showing that life can still be beautiful during these overwhelming hours. Although the film is black&white, it filled my heart with the blossoms of spring.