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A Review of Agnes Varda’s Cleo from 5 to 7

Agnes Varda’s Cleo from 5 to 7 portrays the experience of a “real-time” movie, following the life of a protagonist, waiting for biopsy results. The picture explores many themes, including a unique exploration of accepting a life with a severe illness and a mortality concept. Directed by the only female French New Wave director, Agnes Varda, the movie deserves to be among the era’s classics.

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The picture is narrated from the first person, the protagonist herself. Such structure gives a film its power originated from persistence, where the subjective and objective worlds coexist. The episodic, nonlinear, and empathetic narratives are experimental for her era. There is no definite cause and effect pattern; instead, the film is structured as a journey through the streets of Paris and self-awareness. Cleo’s acquired sense of mortality allows her to see the world from a different perspective, urging her to live in the moment.

Such unconventional structure of the movie with episodic narrative and a loose cause-and-effect logic are the principal distinct elements that distinguish Varda’s picture from Hollywood filmmaking concepts. Cleo’s meaningless at first sight wandering through Parisian streets is the message that the director conveys. The film is based on the discrepancy between two-time concepts – the real clock time and the own feeling of time. The conventional moment perceiving has an endpoint, which Cleo particularly feels with anticipation for the biopsy. On the other side, there is time as experience that expands according to personal feelings.

Varda has devoted a significant part of the movie to conveying the inner world of feelings and our mind’s internal processes. Such an attempt to shift the focus from the material world grants the picture a very modern expressionist style, which harmonically adds to the story. While many early New Wave directors adopt a jaunty boldness of style, Varda in Cleo from 5 to 7 shows a sensibility to subtly develop emotions.

The director raises several existential themes in her movie. The audience has a chance to reflect on the idea of mortality and how important it is to lead a meaningful living. Most importantly, the film has an unconventional feminine point, portraying how French society perceives women. In the end, Cleo’s cancer is confirmed; however, the last two hours of her life seemed to bring her more realization than her entire existence. She has no fear, seems happy, and is determined to spend every minute with her beloved.

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StudyCorgi. "A Review of Agnes Varda’s Cleo from 5 to 7." February 5, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/a-review-of-agnes-vardas-cleo-from-5-to-7/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "A Review of Agnes Varda’s Cleo from 5 to 7." February 5, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/a-review-of-agnes-vardas-cleo-from-5-to-7/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'A Review of Agnes Varda’s Cleo from 5 to 7'. 5 February.

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