The 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival ends on Saturday with one of the tightest races in recent memory and critics fiercely divided over the 21 films in the running for the Palme d’Or.
The 12 days of the world’s biggest film festival was a technicolor explosion of grandeur, kicked off by Tom Cruise with his first trip to Cannes in 30 years to launch ‘Top Gun: Maverick’, accompanied by a demo team from the French Air Force.
It’s been a great year for music lovers – Baz Luhrmann shook things up with his highly anticipated rock ‘n’ roll biopic, “Elvis”, and critics were blown away by an ultra-immersive David Bowie documentary, “Moonage Daydream ” .
In the main competition, the most scorching images were undoubtedly in “Triangle of Sadness” with its long sequence of vomiting projectiles and violent diarrhea on a cruise ship, which left the audience roaring with laughter or turning green.
Elsewhere, entries touched on everything from a serial killer ‘cleansing’ an Iranian holy city of prostitutes (“Holy Spider”) to the difficulties faced by migrants in Romania (“RMN”) and Belgium (“Tori and Lokita” ) to a film told entirely from the perspective of a donkey (“EO”).
There was a slew of Korean talent on the red carpet, with ‘Squid Game’ star Lee Jung-Jae showing off his directorial debut, ‘Hunt’, while Song Kang-ho (‘Parasite’) and the K-pop superstar Lee Ji-eun starred in the touching adoption tale “Broker.”
– “Savagely civic” –
The war in Ukraine cast a shadow over the debates from the start.
The nomination of a Russian director, Kirill Serebrennikov, for his film “Tchaikovsky’s wife” has been the subject of bitter debate.
Although he explicitly condemned the war, some Ukrainians present at the festival argued that there was no “good Russian” in today’s environment, while others – such as documentary filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa – said that such attitudes were “inhuman”. .
Meanwhile, critics seemed unable to coalesce around any of the competing films.
Possible exceptions were “Armageddon Time,” a story about the friendship between a young American Jewish boy and his black schoolmate in 1980s Queens, starring Anthony Hopkins and Anne Hathaway.
“Decision to Leave” – another Korean entry also received very positive reviews. The Hitchcockian story of a detective who falls in love with a murder suspect comes from Park Chan-wook, known for his wild thriller “Oldboy.”
A lot of buzz also around one of the last films screened at the festival, “Close”, the tender and tragic story of two young boys learning to tame their budding sexuality.
“I love that there’s barely a film at Cannes… this year that isn’t hugely divisive,” tweeted British Telegraph critic Tim Robey, listing eight “despised AND adored” films.
Some of the biggest buzz happened outside of the main competition, with lots of love for “Joyland,” a bold portrayal of a transgender dancer in Pakistan.
It won the “Queer Palm” award for best LGBT film – a controversial award that was never fully recognized by festival organizers – on Friday night.
Cannes’ main jury of nine film professionals, led by French actor Vincent Lindon and including two-time Oscar-winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, Indian superstar Deepika Padukone, retreated to a secluded villa somewhere around the seaside resort on the Côte d’Azur for deliberations.
Last year, the jury led by American director Spike Lee awarded the Palme to a woman for only the second time in the festival’s history – French director Julia Ducournau for the gore and radical “Titane”.
Only five of this year’s 21 films have a female director – although this is still a record for Cannes – with American Kelly Reichardt arguably the most likely to win an award for her low-key story of artistic frustrations, “Showing Up”, with Michelle Williams.