Following her 1955 debut feature La Pointe Courte and several short films, Varda made this singular account of a pop singer’s sudden confrontation with cancer, starring Corinne Marchand and featuring a wonderful cameo from the late Michel Legrand, who also composed the film’s score. Both a spirited depiction of Paris in the ’60s and a substantive take on the female psyche, Cléo from 5 to 7 is one of the cornerstones of the French New Wave, enduring for its intelligent perspective on the strong, unpredictable emotions that arise when facing one’s mortality.
Waiting for the results of a cancer test Cléo – an up and coming young pop singer – is confronted with her mortality. Through this dark prism her life and the manic energy of 60s Paris seems to take on another layer. We’ve always seen this film as related to Louis Malle’s Le Feu follet, albeit more pop, made with the light touch that is so particular to Varda. Both movies observe contemporary Paris within a limited time frame, through the eyes of a character facing the possibility of death, thereby giving depth to seemingly random observations or encounters, making the everyday the very material for the audience to contemplate their own existence. —Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt