A simple story makes for a moving and effective film in Agnes Varda's "Cleo From 5 to 7", a French film from 1962 that traces a pair of hours in a beautiful French singer's life as she waits to find out if she has cancer. As she walks the streets of the city, she begins to learn more about herself and the world around her and she comes to terms with what her future just might be.
The main performance by Corinne Marchand is strong, and the cinematography does a wonderful job of capturing the world of Paris, from the streets to the people. I enjoyed the film quite a lot, although I was dissapointed to find out that Criterion's DVD does not offer the opportunity to learn anything more about the film or French films in general, as the supplemental features are, well, zip. Still, "Cleo From 5 to 7" is an engaging piece of cinema that's well-written and beautifully photographed.
VIDEO: According to the box, this is a new transfer in the film's original 1.66:1 aspect ratio. Supervised by director Agnes Varda, it was created from a 35mm fine-grain masterpositive and 35mm optical soundtrack print. The color opening sequence has also been restored. That sequence, which opens the film, looks a little bit spotty, with marks and other damage, as well as colors that seemed faded.
Once the film really starts, the movie is black and white. For the most part, it looks very good and better than I'd expected from a black and white film that's 32 years old. If not sharp, images are at least crisp and never wanting in clarity. Detail is also pleasing. Yes, there are some sequences where marks or scratches on the print do appear, but they are never to the level of being terribly distracting. Some sequences do appear slightly grainy, but again, it didn't take away from what is otherwise a good job by Criterion at restoring this film.
SOUND: The mono French soundtrack is enjoyable, as well. Although I can't speak French so I can't comment on the clarity of the dialogue, the sound only is affected by a slight background hiss, but nothing too bad. The music sounds light and crisp, and is enjoyable when used. Not bad at all.
MENUS:: Basic, non-animated main menu that simply uses the cover art.
EXTRAS: Here's where the disc strays from the usual Criterion offering; there really are no extras included. I would have liked to learn more about the history behind the film and the filmmakers, but oh well.
Final Thoughts: Half of the DVD lives up to Criterion's standards of excellence - the audio and video quality are definitely enjoyable for a film that's 32 years old. But, from a company known for providing extras that are extremely informative and teach about the films they offer, it's a dissapointment that there's nothing more to find here about "Cleo 5 to 7".
The Film A-
Video 85/B = (340/400 possible points)
Audio: 75/C = (300/400 possible points)
Extras: 0/N/A = (0/300 possible points)
Menus: 75/C (150/200 possible points)
Value: 80/B- = (240/300 possible points)
FILM GRADE: A-
DVD GRADE: C+