Cannes Film Festival: Highs and lows

Screen

It’s been ten days of triumphs and upsets at the 67th annual Cannes Film Festival as world cinema’s auteurs, film stars and rising talents converged on the Croisette, eager for success and recognition. However, whilst it’ll certainly have been a busy fortnight for all involved by the time the festival draws to a close, a general view prevails that this year’s Cannes has been marked more by its disappointments than its successes. Opening by drawing attention to the “inherent sexism” in the film industry, Jane Campion heads up a predominantly female jury which has presided over the main competition with an eye to awarding the festival’s highest honour – the coveted Palme d’Or – at the close of the festival this Saturday, but with such a limited number of female directors in competition, Campion’s statement may prove portentous come prize-giving.

One of the most exuberent reactions of the festival has been the rapturous reception of the Dardenne Brother’s unemployment drama “Two Days, One Night,” with raves for Marion Cotillard. Twenty-five year old Xavier Dolan, Cannes darling and enfant terrible of French cinema, has emerged as a serious mid-way contender for the Palme with his fifth film, “Mommy,” an oedipal family drama also hotly tipped in the acting prizes. It’s been a great festival for both David Cronenberg and Robert Pattinson, whose second collaboration “Maps to the Stars” is being hailed as a return to form, with Julianne Moore’s madcap performance as an ageing Hollywood actress chasing a comeback also garnering praise, whilst Pattinson’s out-of-competition “The Rover” again won strong notices. Also triumphing is the long-delayed “Foxcatcher,” whose American sensibility is generating relatively little heat in the Cannes competition but Oscar buzz for both Steve Carell and Channing Tatum.

However, almost as famous as Cannes’ iconic red steps are the chorus of boos that herald the arrival of critical duds. Falling prey to scathing reviews on the festival’s opening night, “Grace of Monaco,” Olivier Dahan’s follow-up to “La Vie En Rose”, starring Nicole Kidman, was met with mirthful scorn alongside rumours of Harvey Weinstein trying to offload the film to another distributor. A similar fate befell Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut “Lost River” which premiered in the Un Certain Regard category and which has been dismissed as a beautiful but derivative mess. Meanwhile Atom Egoyan’s “The Captive” couldn’t even inspire the usual gleeful inventiveness of scathing reviews that makes Cannes so fun, and disappeared almost without trace.

Elsewhere, Tommy Lee Jones’ sophomore feature “The Homesmen” marks his return to the western genre and stars a resurgent Hillary Swank, but its polarised reactions were disappointing for a film which previously was hotly tipped as an awards contender come year’s end. Alice Rohrwacher’s “The Wonders” about a beekeeping family won a small contingent of very vocal support, though the buzz now seems unlikely to manifest itself in any trophies, a situation “Winter Sleep” helmer Nuri Bilge Ceylan is also contending with, despite early enthusiasm for his film.

Still to premier is Olivier Assayas’ “Clouds of Sils Maria,” starring Juliette Binoche as an actress returning to a career defining role and Kristen Stewart as her assistant, which may provide an upset in the main categories. However, as the festival rushes to a close and Cannes returns to being an unassuming French seaside town, it seems that in its 67th outing, the Cannes Film Festival remains the destination of choice for some of the greatest established and newly emerging cinematic talents from around the globe, despite this year’s festival being unlikely to linger long in the memory.

PHOTO/ JustJared