Agnès Varda: Life is Art ACMI Presents

Cleo from 5 to 7

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“One of the Nouvelle Vague's boldest achievements.”

Agnès Varda described her second feature film as "a portrait of a woman painted onto a documentary about Paris".

Following Cleo (Corinne Marchand) from the hours of 5pm to 7pm, Varda meticulously constructs the action in real time. Engulfed by her fears, Cleo is forced to strip off her artifice and take to the streets of Paris: an ordinary woman alone, observing the cities inhabitants.

She visits an artists' model, brimming with life and energy, they drive through Paris and drop in on their friend Raoul. In his noisy projection room, she forgets her troubles as she watches an amusing silent film starring Nouvelle Vague uber-couple Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina. Later whilst strolling she meets Antoine, a common soldier with a quick wit and generous smile. Their time together puts Cleo at ease and back in touch with life.

Cleo from 5 to 7 immediately became emblematic of the French New Wave and the burgeoning feminist movement. Varda's radical portrayal of Cleo deeply challenged notions of the gendered gaze as her heroine shifts from being an object of others' attentions to an active participant, empowered with self-reflection.

An enduring film within Varda's wider filmography, Cleo from 5 to 7 is an exemplar of her distinctive artistic style and radical break with social, gender and cinematic traditions.

Official Competition - Cannes Film Festival (1962)