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A beautiful young pop singer spends two hours wandering through the summertime streets of Paris while awaiting a possibly fatal prognosis in this Nouvelle Vague masterpiece by Agnes Varda.
A classic of the Nouvelle Vague, Cléo de 5 à 7 made Agnès Varda's reputation and remains an immensely influential work. Cléo (Corinne Marchand), a superstitious, superficial pop singer, visits a fortune teller and then spends two hours in the summertime streets of Paris as she awaits the results of a biopsy. Fearing that she has cancer, Cléo buys a hat, rehearses some music, meets friends, takes a walk in the park, and encounters a soldier on leave, all the while fending off feelings of mortality. As in Varda's best work, rigour and charm, objectivity and insouciance are simultaneous: the film unfolds in something like real time, and has the freewheeling feel of Nouvelle Vague street-shooting. With references to the war in Algeria and cameos by colleagues such as Jean-Luc Godard, Anna Karina, and Michel Legrand (who wrote the film's score), Cléo de 5 à 7 immerses the audience in the spirit of 1960s Paris, and in the consciousness of a woman who moves from narcissism to self-knowledge in the two hours we spend with her. "In the cinema of enchantment, this ranks pretty high" (Time Out New York).