Set in 1960's Paris, Cléo sits nervously awaiting her results at a fortune teller and we get the first indication of a lady that is thoroughly superstitious. The fortune teller reshuffles the tarot cards claiming a false reading but Cléo senses that it is bad news.
She heads back to her assistant's house and over the course of the next two hours her outlook on life changes from being utterly self-important to being thoroughly humbled by a soldier about to enter the war in Algeria.
Cleo From 5 To 7 is a clever achievement from director Agnès Varda, managing to hold an audience's attention for 86 pseudo-real-time minutes whilst only focusing on the changing emotional turmoil in a young woman's mind.
The star of the show, Corinne Marchand as Cléo, is equally brilliant at conveying those differing emotions. She starts at 5pm with people waiting on her hand and foot, from her assistant Angèle to a cafè owner on the Parisian streets. It is clear she is a spoilt child, recognised for her singing talent and beauty but very little as the person underneath. Her lover rarely pays her attention, while her band are more concerned with their next record release.
Slowly though as the film develops past 6pm, Varda begins to lose his touch. As Cléo realises that not everyone pays her attention and she has been too wrapped up in her own world, Varda matches her mood by subtly slowing down the film. He regains confidence during the anomalous scene where she believes everyone is watching her, but this is diminished once she jumps into her taxi and the film is sped up to avoid the car radio's monotony.
It's a shame, but perhaps this feeling of being a little cheated by the director of an otherwise excellent film prevents it being right up there with the best. Still, it still provides an interesting - and excellent - character study for anyone going through similar problems.