Cannes Update – Days 6 and 7

Brogen Hayes finally sees blue skies and looks at Killing Them Softly, Holy Motors and You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet at the 65th Cannes Film Festival.

Cannes was still a washout on Monday, meaning that we retreated indoors for most of the day. While rain may be customary at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, it really puts a dampener on proceedings in the south of France as almost everything takes place outdoors; the queues for most of the big screenings form in the open – be it on the roof or on the street – and interviews and parties are customarily held on one of the may beaches along the Croisette. The rain even meant that the ceiling of one of the screening rooms – The Soixantieme – collapsed on Sunday night due to the amount of water gathered on the roof. Being Irish, however, were more than prepared for a change in the weather and donned our rain macs and carried on as almost normal.

The 8.30am In Competition screening was of Alain Resnais’s You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet; When a playwright dies, his butler summons his friends – and those who have appeared in his play Eurydice – to his home. The assembled must watch footage of a proposed revival of the play, and decide whether the production should go ahead.

You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet combines three versions of Eurydice within the narrative of the film, and allows the audience to experience the play as well as the feelings of grief toward the recently deceased playwright. To begin with, the film feels as though it is going to be French remake of the wonderful and incredibly silly Clue; these people are unsure as to why they have been gathered to a remote country home, and the scenario could easily have turned into a murder mystery. Thankfully – or sadly, depending on how you look at it – this is not the case. Those gathered are old friends who are united in their grief for the loss of their friend. The actors assembled play themselves in the film, but as they watch the footage of Eurydice, they take on the characters that they played in the past. There are two versions of Eurydice and Orpheus from different productions, and as they recite the lines they once knew so well, they are transported into the world of the story.

In all, You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet is an interesting concept for a film although it’s inclusion in the Official Selection at Cannes is a puzzling one. The film feels more as though it would be suited to the Un Certain Regard section of the festival.

While running to a screening of The Hunt (Jagten) we passed Adrien Brody sheltering from the rain under one of the many palm trees on the Croisette, and had a quick chat with Horrorthon’s Ed King. Again. In The Hunt Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen) is trying to rebuild his life and his relationship with his son after a messy divorce. All appears to be going well, until a misunderstood gesture and a series of whispers divide Lucas from his friends and turn his neighbours against him. Mikkelsen gives a mesmerising performance as a man whose life is gradually destroyed, and is the first film at Cannes that moved us to tears.

Next up was After Lucia (Despuis De Lucia), a film that follows the lives of a father and daughter who move to Mexico City from a small seaside town for a fresh start after the death of one of the family. Alejandra is bullied at her high school after a seemingly innocent mistake, leading her to take drastic action. The film is not always an easy watch, and brings up issues that we may think are long since forgotten. The performances are understated and, while we may not always agree with the lead character’s actions, they are understandable as these people are driven to the edge of their endurance in a search for comfort and home. Once again, we ended up sitting across the aisle from Un Certain Regard Jury President Tim Roth, who we bet didn’t have to queue outdoors in the rain!

The final film of the day was the new Ken Loach film; The Angel’s Share. Robbie is a young Glasgow thug who tries to turn his life around when he narrowly avoids a custodial sentence. Robbie – whose partner is due to give birth any day – is instead sentenced to community payback and forms a strong bond with Harry, his supervisor. After a visit to a distillery piques his interesting whiskey, and old rivalries flare up again, Robbie and his new friends devise a plan that will change their lives forever. The Angel’s Share is a light hearted change of pace for director Loach and proves that he is as at ease in comedy as he is in drama.

We had heard a rumour that the rain was due to stop on Tuesday, but we woke up to darkened skies and threw on a rain jacket in order to make our way to the Palais for another jam packed day of screenings.

Andrew Dominik’s latest film, Killing Them Softly tells the story of an enforver called in when an established and regular card game is robbed for the second time in the game’s history. The mob send out Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) to find and punish those responsible. Killing Them Softly is a dark and well-acted crime drama, with a fantastic soundtrack that is carefully yet skilfully used. The cinematography lends an air of claustrophobia and darkness to a simple tale about a heist gone wrong and the soundtrack constantly reinforces the idea that the violence of their lives is not something that the characters feel is abnormal. The punctuating political speeches may grate a little, but they are phased out quickly enough that this does not entirely detract from the film.

At the press conference, Brad Pitt said he could reconcile playing such a violent role with the fact that he is a father quite easily, and would rather violence to playing a rapist. Fair point, Brad.

Next up was Bernardo Bertolucci’s first film in nine years; Me and You (Io e Te). Lorenzo (Jacopo Olmo Antinori) is a solitary 14 year old boy. He does not fit in with his schoolmates, constantly asks questions which, when combines with his cleverness, come off as impertinent and clashes with his mother on a regular basis. When his school embark on a skiing trip, Lorenzo makes his mother believe he has gone with them but deliberately stays behind to enjoy the solitude of a world he has created in the basement. That is, until the unexpected arrival of his half sister Olivia (Tea Falco) threatens the cocoon Lorenzo has built for himself.

Me and You is a great return from director Bernardo Bertolucci in which he tackles the idea of coming of age in a world of isolation. Claustrophobia becomes the love of the environment and respect and admiration abounds between two young people.

When we emerged from the Bertolucci the rain had finally let up and the sky was blue for the first time in days! Hurrah! We caught a glimpse of the absolutely gorgeous Jean Dujardin at the screening of Le Grand Soir, in which two brothers – a punk and a corporate man at his wits end –  find out more about each other when one of them loses his job. The film is designed for a French audience – many of the jokes went straight over our heads – but it is an interesting look at the assumptions we make about other people’s lives. 

While queuing in the sunshine for the incredibly strange Holy Motors, we had a chat with Tara Brady and Donald Clarke from The Irish Times, caught a glimpse of Jeremy Irons and heard squeals of delight as Brad Pitt finally arrived on the Red Steps at Cannes. We also heard that Ronan Keating was in town to promote his acting debut Goddess – an Australian musical – and Harvey Weinstein was stirring up excitement on the Croisette for Quentin Tarantino’s forthcoming Django Unchained.

Holy Motors is an odd, disjointed film in which Oscar (Denis Lavant) spends his days going from one appointment to another. Oscar is an actor who must fulfil certain criteria at each meeting, but it is unclear where the cameras are and where reality and fantasy meet. Michel Piccoli and Eva Mendes also star in the film, and Kylie Minogue not only acts but speaks French and sings!

With the promise of a little more sunshine tomorrow, we have retired to our maison for the evening. We have another early start for One The Road, which is based on the iconic Jack Kerouac novel and stars Twilight actress Kirsten Stewart as well as Sam Reily and Garret Hedlund. This is one of the most highly anticipated films of the festival so far and is sure to be a talking point for most of the day tomorrow.