shared joys – Cleo de 5 a 7


I’ve posted a few appreciations, none for a while. Sometimes they seem like hard work, to fairly reflect my whole view of a film, or maybe a book. So I thought it may be good to share things I have an enthusiasm for, as they cross my mind and are on it, briefly, without stultefying them in trying to be proper and as a full review.

By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use,
The original Poster to the 1962 Left Bank film Cléo from 5 to 7, by Agnès Varda.

Cleo de 5 a 7 – written and directed by Agnes Varda

I surprised myself in the last year or so by telling someone this may be my favourite film. These days I don’t do favourites so much, nor top ten lists etc. I used to like them lots but I find them less relevant to me now, each thign is more itself to me and I do have many favourites.

But I do love this film. A journey of two hours in the life of Cleo, minor pop star, lost young woman, idol moving into reality and mythical status. The film begins in colour with a tarot reading that worries Cleo. Then it is black and white — we move through the whirl of her day to day, cafes, hat shops, rest in the afternoon and her suitor’s visit (after some musicians do a litle work with her — Michel LeGrand’s song, Sans Toi, sung by Cleo is so wonderful, as is his part and how this segment is directed, I’m sad I cannot find an offical clip to link to). But Cleo has the tarot and a forthcoming medical result on her mind – she is unsettled and unhappy — off she goes to explore for herself, finds a friend and accompanies her before being dropped at a park for some time on her own. Where she meets a young soldier bound for Algeria. They both face possible death, he clicks with her, simply gets talking and goes with her to get her result.

I said I’d be brief and there I am summarising. This does not capture the lightness of touch to all of this. It seems to me that Cleo moves through postmodernism to romance and finally to a classical view – and that may be reflected in the film’s style. In fact I need now to think about whether that includes modernism and realism becoming more apparent. This is so in style but also content and Cleo’s awarenes of herself – as such it is not simply feminist but personist – we begin with this person trapped in roles of lover, singer/star, beautiful young woman, in parts, and in a way her journey escapes them all to find her nature, which at once apprehends and is living with the tragedy of life. That seems very classical to me. It is a delight to me. Acting (Corrine Marchand is superb) and direction are superb, it all is, it is the whole clice of cake as it were. And we get to see Paris alive in summer in the background, as it should be and is known to many at its wonderful best.

I love Agnes Varda’s work, though I still have a number of films to see. I’m not sure why it crossed my mind this week, but I shall have to have a rewatch again soon.

Toni (17th November 2020)

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