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CANNES 2013 – TICK, TICK, TICK - AND A BOO

The Jury got it right: a tribute to an icon (Bruce Dern for Nebraska), acknowledgment of an actress whose range is getting ever broader (Bérénice Bejo for The Past), encouragement for a young director (Amat Escalante, controversially awarded Best Director for the Mexican film Heli); but boo the Jury for seeing the films in private. Nick Roddick closes his Cannes reports with this overview.

There are good years and bad years in Cannes and, in the end, no matter how much I may have banged on about it, the weather has nothing to do with it. Getting your feet wet is something you get used to: it happens so often, you hardly notice it. But when you see a great film, you do.

Good years in Cannes are when the general level of the Competition entries is well above average. Check 2013. The great years are when the right films win the prizes (although that, given the composition of juries, doesn’t happen as often as it should). In 2013, however, it did.

"at private screenings in the luxury of their yacht"

Speaking of juries, rumour had it that this year’s members did not deign to watch the films along with the press or even at a red-carpet showing, but at private screenings in the luxury of their yacht. If this is so, they – and the Festival – should be ashamed. What marks Cannes off from lesser festivals is the idea that an art is being celebrated, and celebrations should happen together, not have separate rules for VIPs. At the very least, they need to see the film with an audience.

But at least they got the important bit right. Abdellatif Kechiche’s Palme d’Or winner Blue Is the Warmest Colour – condemned to be forever known as ‘the Lesbian film’, much as Cristian Mungiu’s Palme d’Or-winner ‘4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days’ is always going be know as ‘the Romanian abortion film’ – is a work that grows in the mind, like the memory of a perfect summer’s day.

"a film made with passion about passion"

Peter Bradshaw, film critic of the London Guardian, who had to suffer complete strangers coming up to him in the street and saying “Five stars!?” after he gave that rating to Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives, used the right word in his assessment of this year’s award: passion. Blue is a film made with passion about passion: passion for life, passion for cinema, passion for someone else’s body. It is. moreover, a film that positively glows – a result, of course, of the lighting as much as anything – so that it stands out from others in the memory.

"the prizes were pretty satisfying"

The rest of the prizes were pretty satisfying, too: a tribute to an icon (Bruce Dern for Nebraska), acknowledgment of an actress whose range is getting ever broader (Bérénice Bejo for The Past), encouragement for a young director (Amat Escalante, controversially awarded Best Director for the Mexican film Heli). There was even something appropriate about the prize list’s big omission: Paolo Sorrentino’s La grande bellezza, a sumptuous film seemingly created just for a festival, not for an audience.

Before I go and catch up on a fortnight’s sleep, a brief mention of the two films which had not been shown when I wrote my final Diary: Polanski’s Venus in Fur and Jérôme Salle’s Zulu. The Polanski film will please those who liked Carnage (another stage adaptation), disappoint those for whom Polanski is one of the rare directors who can combine passion (again) with ambitions of scale. Venus takes place entirely in an empty theatre where a director (Mathieu Amalric) is casting an adaptation of the novel that gave us the word ‘masochism’. Mrs P (aka Emmanuelle Seigner) is indeed the force of nature that the story requires, but the end result is elegant and, if you’ll pardon the phrase, a little lacking in balls.

Zulu has balls a plenty but not much else: French-directed, South Africa-based and with Forest Whitaker and Orlando Bloom in the lead roles, it is a tired, borderline nasty crime thriller. As a detective tale, it is no Cluedo; if it were, the rope, candlestick and revolver would need to be replaced by machete, machine gun, axe, cleaver, shotgun and a few other weapons of graphic destruction that I have forgotten (or blanked out). Zulu would be just about OK for a rainy night in, but a big disappointment as the closing film of a great Festival.


From left: Bruce Dern in Nebraska, Bérénice Bejo in The Past, Amat Escalante, director Heli

Published May 30, 2013

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Nick Roddick

Read Nick Roddick's unique and exclusive daily reports on the 66th Festival de Cannes.
POSTCARDS FROM CANNES

CANNES 2013 WINNERS


Abdellatif Kechiche’s Palme d’Or winner Blue Is the Warmest Colour


Polanski’s Venus in Fur


Jérôme Salle’s Zulu







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