Cléo from 5 to 7 title image
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90 min.
Release Date
Cléo from 5 to 7 poster

Cléo from 5 to 7 (Cléo de 5 à 7), often the first film mentioned in association with its writer-director, Agnès Varda, occupies the internal and external worlds of a woman who awaits test results. She fears the outcome will be cancer, and so the ensuing 90 minutes, captured in what has been inaccurately described as real-time, inhabits both subjective and objective time. Marrying observation with poetic expression, Varda conveys seemingly inconsequential passages in Cléo’s life and builds them into a multifaceted portrait. While Varda’s sense of realism captures many convincing details—from actual Parisian streets to rogue cats—Cléo’s view of herself is distorted, shaped by how others perceive her, making the character’s mirror image a reflector not of herself but of her objectification. Although Varda and her work on Cléo from 5 to 7 have been described in relation to the French New Wave (nouvelle vague), she defies characterization. A true original, her inspiration and motivations conform only to her creative instincts, not in opposition to existing styles or upholding a particular school of filmmaking. Rather, from a place of fearless independence, Varda’s film investigates the nature of female identity with a series of thematic and formal contradictions. Through her character’s relationship with beauty, mirrors, death, and public spaces, Varda shows Cléo alternating between coquettishness and internal anxiety until she finds strength from within, to diagnose the cancer that threatens contemporary individuals.   

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