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Cléo from 5 to 7, 1962 – ★★★★★

Criterion Challenge 2022
Progress: 12/52
Prompt: Watch a film by a director who’s work you haven’t seen before

I splurged on the Agnes Varda boxed set during the Criterion Collection flash sale, and I got really enthused about digging into it, but if I watched any other movie first I’d have screwed up this prompt. So I watched Cléo from 5 to 7, and was in fact not too sad about that.

It also wound up being an interesting pairing with Three Colours: Blue. Grief and mortality is woven through both movies, and of course they both have female protagonists. Come to think of it, both of them are musicians. But that is perhaps where the similarities end. Cléo isn’t about the male gaze; however, that phenomenon is the constant background to most of the movie. People are always staring at her, talking to her, asking her for things, demanding things of her.

Not that she isn’t asking things of them, too. There’s a theme of mutual interdependency, I think: in the end it’s Cleo’s encounter with Antoine (and subsequent conversation) that lifts her out of existential dread. So I guess there’s that commonality as well.

And Paris is a character in both. You know, never mind, they’re practically the same movie. Just Varda got there first, and with more empathy for the protagonist.

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