Agnès Varda’s Clèo from 5 to 7

1 Cleo

At night, as my head sinks into my pillow, I often wonder if I’d be able to recognize love when it appears in my life. I usually arrive at the conclusion that I have, on countless occasions, obliviously waltzed right past it with a big, dumb grin on my face–and then I start thinking about Agnès Varda’s 1962 film, Clèo from 5 to 7.

There are a handful of terrific films in history that successfully portray action in real time, but none of them quite as precise, as meticulously committed to capturing real human experience, as Cleo from 5 to 7. After watching the film I feel like I’ve just spent 90 minutes marching down the Left Bank of Paris, soaking in the energy of the early sixties alongside our protagonist. Breaking away from conventional film technique, in which narrative rhythm and drama is manufactured through the manipulation of space and time, Varda embraces the subjectivity of her lead, ensuring the viewer experiences every moment the way Clèo (Corrinne Marchand) does, in real time.…

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