Day 7 (Tuesday May 23rd 2017)

Just past the halfway point it might be useful to pause and take stock of how the competition for the Palme d’Or is shaping up.

I had considered The Killing of a Sacred Deer as a firm favourite, second only to Andrei Zvyagintsev’s Loveless (or perhaps Michael Haneke’s Happy End), however Yorgos Lanthimos’s film has, despite many glowing notices, met with a somewhat muted response from the international critics, and its score on Screen International’s review aggregator seems absurdly low for a film of such bracing originality. That said, I’d be very surprised if it goes home empty handed; it’s certainly deserving of all the accolades it can collect.

Loveless has the highest rating thus far with Screen and its handy, daily updated chart. Riding a wave of fairly unanimous praise, it’ll surely take something home on Sunday night. The jury is restricted to awarding just one prize per film, which may affect how the voting plays out.

Never discount Michael Haneke, however, who arrived on the Croisette having won the Palme for both of his previous two films, The White Ribbon and Amour. A third victory would put the Austrian into the record books and I don’t see anyone begrudging him if it comes to pass.

There is a popular groundswell of support for Robin Campillo’s 120 Beats Per Minute – it’s certainly the title I’m overhearing most chatter about. It centres on a group of direct-action French AIDS activists in the late 1980s/early 1990s, and is definitely in the running.

I’d love to see The Square win something – would that awards were given for excellence in harassment by ape-impersonating performance artists. What a deliciously provocative and mischievous film it is, one I look forward to seeing again.

Films viewed today included Naomi Kawase’s (Sweet Bean, Still The Water) delicate Radiance, whose central character works as an interpretive voice artist for movie audio description tracks for visually impaired audiences. This is a highly topical subject and one which the IFI has a strong interest in, given that we are currently working on a pilot initiative in relation to accessible cinema.

There was a French rural fire brigade drama, The Brigade, and Andre Téchiné’s Golden Days, which was a shade disappointing.

Laurent Cantet’s gripping The Workshop is written by Robin Campillo, writer-director of 120 Beats Per Minute, who also wrote Cantet’s Palme d’Or winning The Class. In The Workshop, a successful novelist is hired to teach a summer novel-writing workshop with a group of teenagers in an isolated coastal community. Through lengthy discussion they settle on writing a murder mystery scenario, though further probing of this subject reveals barely suppressed prejudices and anxieties in the youngsters as to the direction contemporary France is, or ought, to be taking.

My day ended with a fifth film, Palme contender The Day After, a black and white Korean two-hander, very enjoyable if a little lightweight for a slot in the main competition.

Check back soon for more updates from Cannes 2017.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

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