Cannes Diary – Days 10 and 11

After almost two weeks in the south of France, the tiredness has well and truly hit us today, as we almost had to crawl out of bed to go and see the new film from director Sean Penn; ‘The Last Face’. Set against the backdrop of a war torn country in Africa, ‘The Last Face’ is a standard Hollywood romantic drama, which feels as though it is exploiting true suffering in order to draw parallels between it and a tumultuous relationship. Starring Charlize Theron, Javier Bardem, Jared Harris and Jean Reno, ‘The Last Face’ was lazily boo-ed at the morning screening in the Grand Theatre Lumiere, and is the first film at the festival that feels as truly unliked as last year’s ‘The Sea of Trees’. Read our full review here.

The energy on the Croisette was certainly different today; the festival proper wraps up tomorrow with the screenings of unseen film ‘Elle’ by Paul Verhoeven. Sunday is a day for press to catch up on the films they may have missed before the Closing Ceremony, and the awards, including the Palme D’Or, are given out in the evening. Judging by the relaxed feeling in Cannes today, everyone knows it. The manicness of last weekend is ebbing away, so we took the opportunity after the screening of ‘The Last Face’ to quickly grab some souvenirs for friends and family back home, before climbing up to the historic Le Suquet district of Cannes for lunch at the invitation of the Mayor of the city.

A yearly tradition, the tickets to the Mayor’s lunch are some of the most hotly contested at the festival, and the event itself takes place in a courtyard, where long tables are laid out and a buffet lunch is served overlooking the port and the rest of Cannes; a truly breathtaking sight.

Mayor’s lunch in #cannes2016. Not pictured, the entire jury getting mobbed.

A photo posted by Brogen Hayes (@brogenhayes) on

The jury of the 69th Cannes Film Festival were also on hand at the lunch celebration, but since we had to rush off to an interview after we ate – and there were so many eager amateur photographers on hand – we only caught a glimpse of George Miller as he took his seat at the table.

The Palm Dog takes place at the UK pavilion at the end of each Cannes Film Festival, honouring the best canine performances at the festival. We had to skip the ceremony to enjoy our free lunch – who said there’s no such thing!? – but we are delighted to hear that the cheeky and cute Marvin from ‘Paterson’ scooped the highest award at the tongue in cheek ceremony.

Our late afternoon was spent on the Quinzane [Director’s Fortnight] Beach as we sheltered from the blistering sunshine and had a chat with Dane DeHaan about his film ‘Two Lovers and a Bear’. DeHaan was quick to laugh and full of love for the film, so this was a delight of an interview, but we were rather surprised when he told us that he, like his character in the film, does not have a lot of space in his life for music, preferring silence instead. We see his point, but this is an unusual standpoint for someone to take in a time where music is absolutely everywhere; it even surrounded us on the Quinzane Beach as a soirée was thrown next door! Our full interview with Dane DeHaan will be published on in the future, so keep an eye out for it.

After a brief snooze on the couch – told you, tired! Also, we ate too much free food – we headed back to the Debussy screening room for the last time, for the screening of Asghar Farhadi’s film In Competition; ‘The Salesman’. After a failed start that led to the lights in the Debussy theatre coming on for a full five minutes, and us not being sure if we would get to see the film at all, the show went on, as the show must do.

Asghar Farhadi’s film is set in Iran and follows a young couple as their marriage is put under the strain of having to leave their home in an emergency as building work going on next door weakens the building, moving house, and a sexual assault which leads to a revenge plan. ‘The Salesman’ feels rather similar to another film In Competition – Cristian Mungiu’s ‘Graduation’ – in theme, and is a little too drawn out to pack a proper punch. Read our full review here.

DAY 11
Saturday in Cannes is always a day of lasts. Yesterday we had our last screening in the Debussy screening room – in which the traditional cry of ‘Raoul’ seems to have been replaced with ‘Sinom’… At least temporarily – and today marked the final screening in the vast and intimidating Grand Theatre Lumiere. After sadly walking up the famous Red Steps for the final time in 2016, we took our seats in the screening room for Paul Verhoeven’s ‘Elle’.

Controversial to say the least, ‘Elle’ is the story of Michéle (Isabelle Huppert), a woman used to being in control and who has had to be strong all her life, after her father was imprisoned for the murder of 27 people. When an intruder breaks into her home and sexually assaults here, Michéle’s life is changed forever, as she struggles to come to terms with her feelings about the attack, and her feelings toward a younger neighbour. Isabelle Huppert is strong and startlingly hilarious in the film by the man who brought us ‘Showgirls’ and ‘Robocop’, which shows a survivor of sexual assault in a completely different light. We were sure the film would divide critics, but the consensus on the Croisette seems to be a positive one. Read our full review here.

Our last interview at Cannes 2016 took place in the afternoon, as we sat down with Mel Gibson in the Palais itself to talk about his film screening in the Midnight Screenings section of the festival; ‘Blood Father’. Directed by Jean-Francois Richet, the film follows ex-con John Link (Gibson) as his estranged daughter comes knocking on his trailer door for help, and Link soon finds himself in a fight for his life, and in serious violation of his parole.

Gibson was in great form as we sat and chatted with him about the film in a brightly coloured room, and was happy to talk about ‘Blood Father’, his career and his return to directing with the upcoming ‘Hacksaw Ridge’, which stars Andrew Garfield and Teresa Palmer. The full interview with Gibson will be published on later in the year.

After this, and all the madness of the Festival as a whole, it was the end. We caught up with some old friends in the Palais, and took our last looks inside the iconic building – and from the fantastic press balcony of course – then it was time to go home and pack, and try to fit everything back into our case that we brought with us. How does this always happen!?

All the winners at the Cannes Film Festival are announced tomorrow night, so keep an eye on to find out who scoops the coveted Palme D’Or. We have our suspicions that it may be ‘Toni Erdmann’, so come back tomorrow evening to see if we are right.

Words: Brogen Hayes