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Agnès Varda: Cinécriture

Sunday, March 22, 2009
4:15 p.m. Cléo from 5 to 7
Agnès Varda (France, 1961)

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(Cléo de 5 à 7). The film that established Varda’s international reputation, Cléo from 5 to 7 is a classic work of the French New Wave, distinguished by its original form and intimate portraiture. Presenting events that appear to unfold in real time, Cléo chronicles two hours in the life of a pop singer (Corinne Marchand), who is waiting to learn if she has cancer. Shot entirely on location in the streets of Paris, the film features a score by Michel Legrand (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) and cameos by Legrand, Jean-Luc Godard, and Anna Karina. Cléo demonstrates one of Varda’s favorite themes, that “one isn’t born a woman, one becomes one.” In the New Yorker, Pauline Kael described Varda’s work as “one of the few films directed by a woman in which the viewer can sense a difference. . . . (It) sustains an unsentimental yet subjective tone that is almost unique in the history of movies.”

Cléo from 5 to 7 is repeated on Saturday, March 28.

—Susan Oxtoby

• Written by Varda. Photographed by Jean Rabier. With Corinne Marchand, Antoine Bourseiller, Dorothée Blanck, Michel Legrand. (90 mins, In French with English subtitles, B&W/Color, 35mm, From Janus/Criterion Collection)