Jim Morrow’s review published on Letterboxd:
Sounds real uplifting, doesn't it? Follow a woman around for a couple hours as she contemplates a possible death sentence from a doctor's diagnosis. Cheerful stuff. Only in this case, Agnes Varda never goes for some Camille-like tearful melodrama, instead we spend a couple hours (90 minutes actually) on a traipse through Paris. A session with composer Michel Legrand, since Cleo is a mildly popular singer, a coffee break, some shopping for a hat, even spying Jean-Luc-Godard and Anna Karina in a quick nearly slapstick argument, but through it all, we watch as Cleo (Corinne Marchand) moves through emotions that run from giddy and self-depracating, to wistful and morbidly aware. All the time she is trying to push aside her underlying fears, but we see her expressions play out her constantly revolving state as she finds momentary respite, and then the reminders of what may be in store. Initially we see Cleo as somewhat vanity obsessed and a bit indulgent, but never unsympathetic.
As Cleo attempts to redirect her focus towards some happier distractions, we too are drawn to them, only for something to momentarily remind us, and Cleo, what may lie ahead, and Marchand, who I've never seen before or since, expresses those moments perfectly. When she meets a young soldier, soon to leave for Algiers, which is also a possible life or death situation, they commiserate as they walk to the place where she will meet her doctor to discover her fate. Over the 2 hours, she has become more accepting and open, and less fearful. Recognizing how fleeting our time is, and that we never know what tomorrow brings doesn't have to fill us with fear. Maybe it just reminds us to be in the present and to live fully in the time we have.