Cannes Update – Days 8 and 9

Brogen Hayes brings you the latest from the 65th Cannes Film Festival, including reviews of Beasts of the Southern Wild and On The Road.

We had another early morning on Wednesday to ensure we had good seats for On The Road; one of the most talked about films at this end of the festival. Seats are becoming more and more precious and audience members are getting more and more panicked while trying to get into screenings. The good news is we were early enough to take our usual place in the balcony.

On the Road is one of the films most talked about and anticipated on the Croisette at Cannes this year. Jack Kerouac’s novel of the same name defined the Beat Generation, and has inspired countless others to travel across America to in search of adventure and themselves. The film plays a little like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas for teenagers, as the characters make their way across country in a fog of lust, drink and drugs. 

Once the press conferences were out of the way and we’d said good morning to Mags and the team in the Irish Pavillion, we decided to take advantage of the good weather and do some writing on the very lovely balcony that the festival has provided for press. The atmosphere in Cannes as a whole was definitely improved by the sunshine and it seemed that everyone was walking around with a smile. That said, it seems that a lot of people have got colds from the bad weather earlier in the week; the level of coughing during screenings is astonishing.

The evening screening in the Debussy cinema was Post Tenebras Lux, the latest from director Carlos Reygadas. It seems as though Reygadas directed the film with no thought as to camera placement or what the audience will actually get from the film, and this is it’s main downfall. Most of us can sit through an arthouse movie and find something redeeming even in the worst of films, but After Darkness, Light is garbled, indulgent and messy and possibly the worst film In Competition this year.

Once we emerged into the cool evening air we saw Kirsten Stewart arriving at the Red Steps in a beautiful vintage car, then went for a quick walk down the Croisette to try and find Cannes in a Van. The team behind Cannes in a Van drive from the UK to the south of France every year to show a selection of short films at the back of their specially modified van. We were either too early or too late, but Andy Greenhouse and his team were nowhere to be found. We did, however, see the cast of Holy Motors on their way to the film’s official screening, Ewan McGregor in one of the very swanky jury cars and the On The Road and Kanye West parties were in full swing on the beach. As well as this, we watched a few minutes of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which was playing at the ever fun cinema on the beach. Then it was time for some much needed sleep, we had another early start on Thursday for Matthew McConaghey’s first of two films In Competition; The Paperboy.

Thursday dawned bright and sunny, it is a shame that the same cannot be said for The Paperboy. The film, which was greeted with both cheers and boos at the morning screening, is a film with an intriguing story, rich source material and beautifully understated performances from the lead cast that is let down by bloated and garbled direction and a very odd voiceover. There is a great story in there, but it needs a stronger director and an editor with a steady hand to bring it out.

Macy Gray and Nicole Kidman looked great at the press conference in green and red respectively, and Zac Efron reminded us all that he looks damn good in a suit. This, combined with his strong performance in the film, is sure to cement him as an actor to watch. 

One of the most loved films so far has been Beasts of the Southern Wild, a film that we somehow missed the first time it was screened. Thankfully, there were mop up screenings today and we finally got to see the film that was the darling of the Sundance Film Festival.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is the story of Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis),  a young girl who lives with her father in on the fringes of society in a Louisiana area called The Bathtub. The area is populated with those who have chosen to live outside of the society around them, and they are filled with joy and wonder. As a storm approaches, however, Hushpuppy’s life is thrown into chaos with the destruction of everything that she holds dear.

Quvenzhané Wallis is an absolute revelation at the centre of the film. She carries the story and, through her amazingly mature yet beautiful voiceover, she manages to comment not only on her own society, but life as a whole. Beasts of the Southern Wild is heartbreaking in its sincerity – although it may try too hard at times – and Quvenzhané Wallis is certainly a young actress to watch out for.

Once the sun got too hot, and once we learned that Zac Efron was in town, which surely meant teenage hysteria – we retreated to the relative comfort of the Palais and had a wander around the Marché. It seems that everyone is going home early this year, as buyers and sellers in the basement of the Palais were already packing up and shipping out. This meant that the building was filled with an eerie quiet, which means the festival truly is in it’s final stages.

Tomorrow morning we hope we are in for a treat with David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, which may change the whole face of the race for the Palme d”Or. We shall see either way at 8.30 in the morning…