EST. 2009

August 20, 2020

That Afternoon in Paris

MY INTRODUCTION TO THE WORK OF AGNES VARDA, Cléo de 5 à 7 didn't just rekindle my love for French New Wave film, but rather reinforced it. Playing out as if in real time, the movie follows two hours in the life of Cléo, as she waits for her medical exam results. Paris sets the scene for her turmoil; at times suppressed, at times expressed with melodramatic flair. 

As a pop singer, Cléo turns to theatrics and triviality to cope with her anxiety. She sings, she shops, she cries. We see a bit more dimension to Cléo though, as Agnes Varda gives her moments of introspection, and reveals her warmth through existing and new relations. 

I think of Paris with some sentimentality these days, having visited the city right before lockdown. It was a beautiful, blissful, and now distant pre-pandemic memory. I'm no pop star but like Cléo in the film, I too employ triviality to deal with challenges. But just like Cléo, and any woman at that, I also turn to connection and introspection to get by.

Even when reality starts to feel like a film narrative, it's good to remember that we can overcome not only our challenges, but also our archetypes.

Cléo de 5 à 7, 1962. Directed by Agnès Varda.