Cléo from 5 to 7
Cléo de 5 à 7
1962, 89 min., color and B&W, DCP projection source
Agnès Varda eloquently captures Paris in the ’60s with this real-time portrait of a singer (Corinne Marchand) set adrift in the city as she awaits the test results of a biopsy. A chronicle of the minutes of one woman’s life, “Cléo from 5 to 7” is a spirited mix of vivid vérité and melodrama, featuring a score by Michel Legrand (“The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”) and cameos by Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina.
Roger Ebert, who included “Cléo from 5 to 7” in his selection of “Great Movies,” writes that “Varda is sometimes referred to as the godmother of the French New Wave. I have been guilty of that myself. Nothing could be more unfair. Varda is its very soul, and only the fact that she is a woman, I fear, prevented her from being routinely included with Godard, Truffaut, Resnais, Chabrol, Rivette, Rohmer and for that matter her husband Jacques Demy. The passage of time has been kinder to her films than some of theirs, and ‘Cléo from 5 to 7’ plays today as startlingly modern. Released in 1962, it seems as innovative and influential as any New Wave film. Unlike most of the New Wave directors, Varda was trained not as a filmmaker or as a critic, but as a serious photographer. Try freezing any frame of the scenes in (Cléo’s) apartment and you will find perfect composition — perfect, but not calling attention to itself. In moving pictures, she has an ability to capture the essence of her characters not only through plot and dialogue, but even more in their placement in space and light. While many early New Wave films had a jaunty boldness of style, Varda in this film shows a sensibility to subtly developing emotions.”