The film depicts two hours in the life of a singer known as Cleo who is awaiting her cancer test results. She is shown as highly anxious and has assumed that the results will be bad even before they have arrived. Her constant worrying makes her come off as attention seeking. The two hours see to pass slowly for her, with a lot of activities fitted into the time span. Through the course of the film, she begins to realize the fickleness of her physical appearance and begins to feel desolate. Eventually she sheds the pretence and embraces herself, symbolized by the removal of her wig.
The film depicts the entire period in real time, and yet we can feel the slowness of the quiet moments and the fast pace of others. The division of the film into chapters depicting a countdown till the time she finally gets her results shows how we hang on to every moment we have, especially when we are under pressure. While her worrying stretches on for the entire two hours, only a single sentence spoken in a matter of seconds alleviates her fears.
It also tries to show beauty and time in relation to each other. Cleo believes that her beauty can never fade and is constantly worried about the same. At the beginning of the film, Cleo says to herself ‘I might as well be dead already.’ She believes that her physical appearance is an indication of time and how it betraying her. However, as the film proceeds, she realizes that beauty can never last long.