Cleo from 5 to 7


Comedy / Drama / Music

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 96%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 89%
IMDb Rating 8 10 10311


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January 13, 2018 at 06:01 PM



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1hr 30 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Ian 4 / 10

Interesting Approach

(Flash Review)

This film is pure French art house. I'm probably being a bit stern with the rating and a second pass may net a better understanding; after I read some enlightening reviews. The core plot is a young and well- known singer woman is awaiting results about her health after getting tested. She seeks out a tarot card reader to try to predict her future before hearing official doctor results. During the two hours from 5-7pm, happening in real time but only for 90 minutes, you follow her every move. From walking the Paris streets, interacting with assorted local color, taking taxi rides and so forth. Observing Cleo ranges from moderately interesting to boring. It helps to focus on the film's approach and cinematography to pass the time, which really tell a story, subtly, about how her attitude on life begins to changes as she gets closer to finding out her results. What will they be? This film would be good to analyze carefully to truly see what the film is communicating through its shot framing.

Reviewed by ejamessnyder 8 / 10

A great, emotional French drama

Cleo from 5 to 7 is a film about a young woman who is nervously awaiting the results of a medical test. She fears the worst, and we see her as she wanders the streets of Paris meeting friends and strangers, seeking distraction and consolation. The story is told in real time and I loved the idea of it when I heard about it. But I also loved the idea of Richard Linklater's 2014 film Boyhood—which I eagerly anticipated for years while it was in production—but found the end product to be a bit deficient. So would Cleo from 5 to 7 live up to my expectations?

The film started out a bit slow in my opinion. I felt like I didn't really care enough about the lead character or what she was going through and found myself bored by several of the early scenes. But a funny thing happened as the film went on: I started to care! Halfway into the film I was totally enthralled. It was fascinating to watch her mood change from dread to acceptance and then back again as she met with different people and discussed her situation and saw different things and encountered different distractions throughout Paris.

Additionally, there were several fun things that the filmmakers did with the camera and the editing that I don't recall ever having seen before. There were a few instances of jump cuts that I particularly enjoyed but there was also a very well-done scene in which Cleo is walking up the sidewalk, looking at strangers and recalling in her mind the faces of friends. It was edited very well and pleasing to the eye but also did a great job of showing Cleo's thoughts and emotions without the use of narration, which would not have been sufficient.

The film feels very real, in a way. The narrative follows Cleo to the places she chooses to go, rather than following a standard cookie-cutter story. She could very easily have chosen a different path through Paris, or stayed at home, but this is where she went and that is where we follow her. And all the characters she meets feel totally unique and very much like real people. At times it feels as if we could be following a real woman through Paris, unaware that she's being filmed or followed.

It reminded me a bit of Chris Marker's documentary film Le Joli Mai, which was filmed around the same locations at about the same time. That film was real, in that it was a documentary. This film feels almost as real. The acting seems excellent, but I'm not fluent in French so it may be a little harder for me to tell when the acting is bad or not. But that's what I love about foreign films: the acting always seems a little better than it probably is!

I feel like this movie warrants an additional viewing for a few reasons. Firstly, I feel like I will be able to better appreciate the parts I thought were a little slow or boring during the first viewing. Either that, or I'll confirm my earlier assessment that they were in fact slow and boring and nothing can change that, though I doubt that is the case. Secondly, knowing how things end, I think I could gain some additional insight that I may have missed the first time around during the early scenes, in particular during the opening scene which involves an impactful tarot card reading.

So, by the time it ended, Cleo from 5 to 7 had indeed lived up to my hopes and dreams. It wasn't exactly what I expected, but I enjoyed it very much and think that I will watch it again. I'd previously seen Vagabond, another of the director Agnès Varda's films. While I enjoyed that film, it didn't give me the same feeling that I got from Cleo from 5 to 7, which makes me want to see more of her work. Right now I get the feeling that she may end up becoming one of my favorite French filmmakers.

It's not a perfect movie, but it's better than the majority of films I see, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys powerful, emotional dramas or French films in general.

Reviewed by talisencrw 9 / 10

A beautiful life-affirming work from a great and original filmmaker!

When I think of interesting filmmakers, the world over, whose movies are always a pleasure to watch, I thank God every day for Agnès Varda. I had her '4 Films by' Criterion boxed set, seemingly forever, left unwatched, and I don't really know why. Perhaps I felt her films wouldn't excite me enough, I don't know. I certainly enjoy foreign, and French, filmmaking enough. Maybe it was because she was female, I don't know. I hope not, but I'm simply being honest. Sometimes I'm apprehensive about starting to investigate the works of a director who's different from me: Female, non-English, non-Caucasian. I think it's difficult for me to start, because I'm afraid that I won't be able to fully emphasize with their sphere of reference, and thus won't be able to either appreciate or enjoy the filmic experience as much as I should. Once I start, and watch that first film I see of theirs, I'm fine. But until that point, it's truly a challenge.

My university library had her two recent critically-acclaimed films, 'The Gleaners and I' and its sequel, on one DVD, and one of my favourite critics, Roger Ebert, had made a 'Great Movie' article about the original. So I gave that series a viewing, each film a separate night, and I fell in love with her as a person, and found that her films were not going to be a challenge for me at all. Thus I then turned to my previously-imposing, aforementioned boxed set, and went through it chronologically.

This, the second film of the set, was extraordinary, basically a real-time cinematic exercise of a lady who is waiting for the results of a biopsy, and thus wondering if her quality of life is going to be seriously challenged or not. In it, as I've found in all of her films so far, there's an extraordinary visual flair, a great and natural storytelling facility present, and you can really tell that Varda both loves people and is glad to be alive, and it shows in everything she does. If you are in a similar boat, and are reluctant to investigate Varda's works, please do yourself a favour and don't hesitate any longer. Appreciate this extraordinary woman and her work while she is still alive. You will never be the same.

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