With 20 films in competition, the aim at Cannes is to try see as many as possible, and still leave room for those in Un Certain Regard and other spontaneous decisions, interviews, a couple of cocktail parties, journey-time to Hotel du Cap (45 minutes outside of Cannes), and at least a crepe or two (or three – it is 12 days after all!)
I saw 16 films, and of those, my 3 stand-outs are:
Inside Llewyn Davis
What happened to the guy – or guys – who came before Bob Dylan? The Coen brothers give us the chance to experience a slice of one such musician’s life in this tragically funny but endearing film. The best part was watching the full songs performed by Oscar Isaac, the lead actor. The cat who steals his heart comes a very close second. Oscar’s played bit parts for a while, but after this film, I look forward to seeing him in more starring roles. I also look forward to owning the soundtrack, by T Bone Burnett, one day very soon.
The Past (Le Passe)
For me, the sign of a good film is when I’m completely immersed in the story to the point where I forget the constant to-do list that’s swirling around in my brain. When I start making up thoughts to fill in the silence of the characters in a scene, then I know I’m really hooked. This is how it was for The Past. With each revelation of the plot and the character’s complexities, Asghar Farhadi had me going in deeper and deeper until the final scene contained all the emotion words could not convey.
La Vie d’Adele aka Blue is the Warmest Color
Word spread fast about the 3-hour lesbian love fest, and for good reason too. Yes, it features an erotic and graphic sex scene (and a couple of other smaller ones) between two beautiful girls. But it’s so much more than that, and there isn’t just one reason for liking this film because, just like the film itself, the reasons are all-encompassing. It’s the overall sense that comes from watching the film – a coming-of-age tale of one girl’s first love and all the beauty and ugliness that comes with that. They are emotions anyone who’s ever been in love will have experienced – it just so happens to be between two women. I appreciated the tender, searing story-telling and the intense shots of Adele Exarcopolous (I also appreciate her French-Greek surname!)
And my bonus film, as it wasn’t in competition is…
All is Lost
For a film that contains perhaps four or five words, this is one of the most gripping stories I’ve seen. Think Life of Pi without the tiger but with one of Hollywood’s most veteran of actors in the most physically challenging role of his life. As the audience, you’re with Robert Redford’s character, who remains name-less (like his background, this is information unnecessary to the story) and are with him, feeling every tiny victory just as much as his bigger defeats. It’s a pity the film wasn’t in competition because many felt Robert Redford worthy of the best actor title. Still, watch this space come Oscar time. His journey is not complete.
As for the awards handed out by the jury…
Palme d’Or: La Vie D’Adele (Blue Is The Warmest Color), directed by Abdellatif Kechiche
Best Director: Amat Escalante, Heli
Grand Prix: Inside Llewyn Davis, directed by Ethan Coen & Joel Coen
Best Screenplay: Jia Zhang-ke, A Touch of Sin
Camera d’Or for Best First Feature: Ilo Ilo, directed by Anthony Chen
Jury prize: Like Father, Like Son, directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda
Best Actor: Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Best Actress: Berenice Bejo, The Past (La Passe)
For the rest of the prizes, head on over to the Festival de Cannes website.
Another quick thanks to the National Film and Video Foundation for helping in part with my Cannes trip. I saw some of the South African movies being shopped around at the market and interviewed a number of filmmakers, and my thoughts on the country’s budding film industry need to be put down into words. But, after I’ve caught up on a bit of sleep.
And that, my friends, is a wrap!