DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: CLEO FROM 5 TO 7

Wednesday 16 January 2008


Cleo from 5 to 7 (1961) Dir. Agnes Varda
Starring: Corinne Marchand and Antoine Bourseiller

Guest Review by Blair Stewart

When a good film "grabs" you it will bring up latent fears, emotions and dreams. Popcorn escapism like a good James Bond flick can make even the most cynical cineaste regress to a daydreaming child. But a great film will completely transport you to another time and place. 'Cleo de 5 a 7' transports you to the summer of 1961 Paris for a few crucial hours and allows you to observe its heroine like an innocent voyeur.

Corinne Marchand plays Cleo, a gorgeous, flighty pop singer who, despite the pending results of a cancer test, lives like she has the moon and some stars on a string. We follow her through the breezy City of Lights and witness a sea change in how she might live the remainder of her life. The afternoon sun shines on Cleo in crisp black and white, snippets of radio and noise bounce around carelessly as she awaits judgement, we even have time for a song or two in her childish penthouse filled with kittens and frilly garbage. Cleo will then escape into the city to drown out her fears in its noise and bluster. The film reaches its charismatic destination when Cleo meets a soldier (Antoine Bourseiller) on his way to the Algerian front lines. The two strangers find common ground in their mutual clocking ticking mortality and spark the 'possiblity' of a romance.

My first impression when I read this poorly represented plot summary was art-house pretention. But Agnes Varda has created her own version of a french croissant. A light and flaky yet wholly satifying morsel of celluloid and one of the most accessible films of the French New Wave. Varda's photo-journalism experience shines through, crafting wonderful Parisian compositions and languid handheld strolls through its streets. Linklater fans will find obvious influences in his 'Before Sunrise' films as well as Julie Delpy's 'Two Days in Paris'. And I have a hunch the opening credits made a hell of an impression on a young Wes Anderson.

Please jump into this timemachine and transport yourself to Paris and into the life of Cleo, from 5pm to 7pm.

PS Watch for the line-up of French New Wave cameos.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the review of Varda's Cleo de 5 à 7. And here is some music to complement this review:

Cleo on 45 RPM