Tales from Cannes 2017 – Part 2

IFI Head of Cinema Programming David O’Mahony continues his tour of Cannes 2017. Read on for his latest update.

Day 2 (Thurs 18th) 

Wonderstruck. Todd Haynes follows up the sublime Carol, possibly his finest work, with a volte-face into young adult drama. Sort of. The premise is exposition-heavy (the old adage ‘if you’re explaining you’re losing’ springs to mind). It’s 1977, Minnesota; 12 year old Ben has recently lost his mother (Michelle Williams, relegated to flashbacks) and is on a quest to locate his absent father, whose identity has been kept secret. He has also recently lost his hearing in a freak lightning accident.

Parallel to this is the 1930s-set story of Rose, a girl who is similarly deaf and in search of a parent, presented in black and white. Haynes weaves an ornate tapestry (with stop-motion figurine sequences being redolent of his early Karen Carpenter biopic) and the disparate narratives eventually intersect but Wonderstruck is something of an indulgence for a director of Haynes’ standard.

I caught up with Ismael’s Ghosts, which opened the Festival, and found it, like much of Arnaud Desplechin’s work, rather breathless and overwrought. A great cast – Matthieu Almaric, Marion Cotillard and Charlotte Gainsbourg – are committed to the melodramatic tone and I have no doubt the film will draw legions of admirers when it reaches Irish shores. Almaric plays a film director who is derailed by the surprise reappearance of his wife (Cotillard), missing for 21 years and now presumed dead.

With Loveless, Andrey Zvyagintsev (The Return, Elena, Leviathan) confirms his place in the top tier of directors working today; ostensibly a missing person procedural the film is – as is always the case with Zvyagintsev’s work – about so much more, and similar to Leviathan it bears interpretation as a state of the nation address.

A couple are in the final stages of separating; both have taken new lovers and are close to selling their apartment. Caught in the crossfire is their neglected 12 year old son who is treated as an inconvenience to be dealt with in the carve-up of their discordant lives; they fail any attempt to shield him from their mutual disgust, selfishness and constant fighting. Indeed they barely notice when he hasn’t come home from school and is declared missing. Like the director’s earlier work, Loveless is as exacting and precise as a blade and displays magisterial control in its filmmaking.

The day finished with two films from the Un Certain Regard sidebar programme: Barbara, the opening film directed and starring Matthieu Almaric, and Western, an interesting Germany drama about tensions erupting between a Germany construction group working on the border with Bulgaria.

Check back soon for more updates from Cannes 2017. Read Part 1 here

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