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Cleo from 5 to 7 (Criterion Collection) (1962)

Cast: Corinne Marchand, Antoine Bourseiller, Dominique Davray, more...
Director: Agnes Varda
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Criterion
Genre: Drama, Foreign, France, Criterion Collection
Running Time: 90 min.
Languages: French
Subtitles: English
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Cleo from 5 to 7 (Cleo de cinq a sept), per its title, concentrates on two hours in the life of a woman. Those hours are desperate ones, in that Cleo, a pop singer, awaits the results of her tests for cancer. Director Agnes Varda stages the film in "real" rather than subjective time, its various episodes divided into chapters, using significant Tarot cards. During the allotted time, Cleo visits her friends, tries to sing her worries away, spends money, and cries. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Timeless by talltale December 26, 2006 - 4:07 PM PST
Seeing CLEO FROM 5 TO 7 again, some 44 years after my initial encounter with it, is like discovering an old friend--and finding him/her so much richer and more wonderful than I remembered. This was only Agnes Varda's second full-length feature (her first, "La Pointe-Courte," made in 1956, remains sadly unseen by most of us) but how adept, subtle, honest and fully-assured she appears as both writer and director. Her small but striking story finds a suddenly successful young singer awaiting important medical test results that she feels may be terminal. She's frightened and angry and takes all this out on her friends and co-workers: nibbling & sipping, shopping for a hat, practicing a song, meeting a friend's lover who works in a cinema (we get to see a fully created silent movie in which Godard, Anna Karina and Jean-Claude Brialy appear as uncredited actors) and then visiting one of Paris' lovely parks, where the movie takes off into real connection--and film perfection. ("Cleo" was given a short theatrical re-release in New York City this past season, but the Criterion DVD, released in 2000, offers a wonderfully rich image.)

Corinne Marchand, the gorgeous blond who plays Cleo, at first seems spoiled and tiresome, but as we spend more time with her, she gradually opens and softens. The first real sense of this aperture comes as she sings one of Michel Legrand's finest works (Legrand plays her songwriting accompanist) and Varda frames her so beautifully and the music tugs so strongly at our emotions that the song--"Cri d'Amour," I think it may be called but I remember it as "Sans Toi ("Without You")--becomes an instant classic. Varda has always had a lovely way of creating reality through an accumulation of honest moments. Sometimes her subjects have seemed to me not always as interesting as they might, but here she finds an ideal theme and characters embodied by a fine set of actors--particularly Antoine Bourseiller as a soldier about to leave for the war in Algiers (which still raged while the movie was being made). Best of all, while this film takes place in the Paris of 1961 (and in black-and-white, except for a colorful opening in the home of a tarot card reader), it does not seem the least dated in terms of theme, style or the surprisingly rich feelings it engenders in the viewer. What a sublime accomplishment.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.39)
162 Votes
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