Agnès Varda Roger Manvell - Essay

Roger Manvell

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Cléo de 5 à 7] is a film that very much depends on the extent and nature of the sympathy you can find for the particular girl with whom you are invited to spend a hundred minutes during a crucial period in her life. She has two hours to wait for the results of a medical examination which will confirm whether or not she has cancer and, if she has it, whether or not she can be saved from death.

Cléo is a vain, spoiled, revue artist at the beginning of a successful career as a popular singer…. Yet she is not altogether worthless; she is in fact still quite human, though the vanity of her life has given her neither the emotional nor the spiritual resources with which to face a period of endurance such as this. So at the point when we discover her she is pathetic and vulnerable, facing a particular test of character which any one of us might have to face at any time….

Cléo is discovering that everything that happens to her now is a heightened, almost symbolic experience. The streets that seem real and ordinary to us … become alien and unreal to her; her lover comes and goes, but there is no human or physical contact; one of the new songs composed for her, 'Sans Toi', has a bitter and melancholy significance. Everything is memento mori….

[Cléo de 5 à 7] is a film of personal vision, and its strength lies in this. The structure to which Agnès Varda commits herself...

(The entire section is 491 words.)