Time to experiment again. I am going to create a “New Page” and see what happens. I’m not sure what a new page really is…I presume it is another subheading or section? I don’t know. But we’ll find out. Rather than random fill and greeking, I’ll write about Cléo de 5 à 7 (Cleo from 5 to 7), a wonderful film.
(If you are late to this blog, I set it up as a trial blog…a place for me to learn the mechanics of it all…and I haven’t been true to that purpose. Be patient, please, if this is a little fragmented and sloppy)
Cleo from 5 to 7, a film by Agnes Varda (France, 1961)
The French know how to make films. This is a beautiful film, loaded with subtle and not-so-sublte symbolism and metanarratives, all of which is largely irrelevant. This is a film that can be enjoyed on the surface, almost passively, and it will still touch you. Fun and even somewhat light, it carries some heavy and worthwhile messages without the burden of effort. The film might be somewhat inconsistent here and there, but it is hardly noticable.
Perhaps the gorgeous lead actress, Corrine Machand, steals too much of the show. But she is the center of attraction. She is the show. The film spends two hours with Cleo — 5:00 to 7:00 – in Paris. She has recently had medical tests to confirm a cancer diagnosis. At 7:00 she is to meet her doctor.
This isn’t a dumper of a film about a woman on a fear and pity jag. Cleo is distressed, but finds a lot to experience as she works through the streets of Paris. This alone is reason to watch this film. Paris circa 1961. Plenty of street scenes and many Parisians looking on. (Which, by the way, only adds to the sense that Cleo is the subject of the film. We are the cinematic voyeur multiplied by the gaze of the Parisians; from both within the film and without Cleo is the object of the gaze.)
The supporting characters that surround Cleo are perfect. They add to the story and don’t get in the way. Brilliantly done. Even cab drivers play on par with credited supporting actors. All contribute to an odd kind of realism that fits this style of filmmaking so well.
The key downer for me, however, was the lack of all that great European style you so often see men sporting in films of this era. But, once again, this is a film about Cleo. Masculine French panache would only interfere.
Rent the DVD. The extras are worth it, including a 2004 (?) retracing of Cleo’s route through Paris on the first day of Summer, 1961. Get this film. Now among my top ten.