Time has flown by since I returned from Cannes Film Festival. But it was a fantastic week of party crashing, champagne sipping and surreal celebrity spotting (My favourite was Chris Eubank). But I’m sure you don’t want to hear about the yacht parties, red carpets and hot tubs we blagged our way into. After all, Cannes is about one thing, and one thing only. Film. So I’m going to tell you about 3 films which stood out for me at the festival and which I hope you’ll look out for at an arty cinema near you soon.
They’re not exactly first date material, but they will give you plenty of pretentious dinner party fodder for the forthcoming year. In no particular order…
1. The Hunt (Dir. Thomas Vinterberg)
The emotionally charged tale of how a little rumour can spread like wild fire and destroy a man’s life, is deftly brought to life by the experienced Danish director Thomas Vinterberg. All the supporting cast are fantastic, providing a frighteningly realistic backdrop, and Mads Mikkelson throughly deserves his Best Actor award for his restrained performance as one man trying to defend his honour. As a story of an innocent man accused of being a pedophile, this is a ‘touching’ drama in all senses of the word.
2. Post Tenebras Lux (Dir. Carlos Reygadas)
A film that definitely split opinions, with boos ringing out after it screened for the press on the opening day, but with the director then going on to be awarded Best Director by the jury. For me this was the cinematic highlight of this year’s festival. The story of a wealthy, yet conflicting couple trying to live amongst the locals in the Mexican countryside, it is shot unconventionally in 4:3 format, and with a distorted, opaque lens. I had the same feeling throughout as I did with Tree Of Life last year, that I was witnessing a truly original work of art. And with mainstream cinema becoming increasingly homogenised, that is a rare feeling that I really appreciate. In respect of it’s theme of dreaming, the overt meaning of Post Tenebras Lux was submerged in a series of more abstract moments containing some of the most stunning imagery and striking emotion that you’re likely to see on a cinema screen this year. Like a dream, these moments stay with you without fully grasping their significance, and like some dreams, sometimes you’re embarrassed to tell people about it afterwards.
3. Amour (Dir. Michael Haneke)
Cannes likes Michael Haneke. He has won the Palme D’Or 2 times in the last 4 years now. However, very few people could argue with this year’s award. L’Amour is the story of a elderly couple dealing with worsening health and imminent death. What sounds on the surface a depressing tale, is dealt with such tact and such realism that it becomes more a meditation on enduring love and the film has as much hope as despair. It is testament to Haneke’s confidence and the mesmerising central performances of Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva that this simple story, shot only in one setting, becomes so compelling.