We’re one week into the 12 day Festival de Cannes, so as they’re half way through I’ve pulled together the thoughts of a variety of critics who are attending the festival to give you an idea of how the headline films are being received. Some films have delighted, others have disappointed, and as ever the critics don’t always agree which description best fits some of the films screening in competition. Although it does look like director Michael Haneke’s Amour is emerging as a front runner for the Palme d’Or.
We’ll hear a lot more about these films over the coming months, but here’s a first taste.
Moonrise Kingdom - Director Wes Anderson, staring Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Edward Norton and Tilda Swinton.
Eric Kohn - Indiewire: “There are diehard Wes Anderson fans and then there's everyone else. Moonrise Kingdom, the idiosyncratic auteur's seventh feature, eagerly pitches itself toward that first group of audiences and ignores the rest. But if those open to Anderson quirks will find a rewarding experience littered with warmth and playful humor.” Rated B +
Todd McCarthy - The Hollywood Reporter: “This is a Wes Anderson film -- more lightweight than some, possessing a stronger emotional undertow than others -- that will strike the uninitiated as conspicuously arch.
Kevin Harley - Total Film: “Fleet, funny, impeccably orchestrated: whimsical Wes returns on top of his game. Non-fans might call it over-familiar comfort cinema but with the craft so loving and new elements so well-integrated, his singular pitch remains a thing to cherish.”
Amour - Director Michael Haneke, staring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert.
Eric Kohn - Indiewire: "Amour, is an incredibly focused and emotionally charged look at an elderly woman's gradual demise and her husband's attempts to cope with it. Although not exactly heartwarming, Amour has a more contained vision of human relationships than Haneke's previous films without sacrificing its bleak foundation. It's his most conventional movie about death, and the most poignant.” Rated A -
Mary Corliss - Time: “Amour is Haneke of the highest order. Amour possesses many of the filmmaker’s touchstones: an austere, majestic visual style, a central couple whose names are some variation of George and Anne, an enclosed setting that allows no exit for either the characters or their demons, and an abrupt act of violence. The difference here is the compassion that Haneke affords the two people in this story, and the love, not twisted or ironic, they show each other.”
Peter Bradshaw - The Guardian: “Michael Haneke's new film in the Cannes competition is everything that could have been expected from him and more: a moving, terrifying and uncompromising drama of extraordinary intimacy and intelligence.” Rating 5/5
You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet - Director Alain Resnais, staring Sabine Azéma, Mathieu Almaric.
Eric Kohn - Indiewire: “While the new movie lacks the same cohesion [as 2009’s Wild Grass], it leaves plenty of room for its dynamic ensemble cast to act circles around the material while Resnais directs circles around them. It's little more than a stylistically intriguing exercise, but Resnais' works out better than most.” Rated B
Peter Debruge - Variety: “Though Resnais' gamble seems to have failed, it's encouraging to see a director on the brink of 90 still willing to experiment in a way most helmers half his age wouldn't dare.”
Peter Bradshaw - The Guardian: “…despite its moments of charm and caprice, the film is prolix, inert, indulgent and often just plain dull.” Rating 2/5
Like Someone In Love - Director Abbas Kiarostami, staring Denden, Rin Takanashi, Ryo Kase
Peter Bradshaw - The Guardian: “[Kiarostami’s] latest movie, set in Tokyo, really is bafflingly and even exasperatingly truncated. There are some interesting ideas and sympathetic performances in a superbly shot and fascinatingly controlled exercise. There is potential. But the curtain comes down with an arbitrary crash just as the drama was becoming interesting.” Rating 2/5
Lee Marshall - ScreenDaily: “The more you delve, the more resonance you find; the problem is that Kiarostami fails to embed the film’s visual, aural and symbolic games in a narrative that satisfies on the level of story and character.”
Jordan Mintzer - The Hollywood Reporter: “Upscale art houses and admirers of the Palme d’Or laureate will be the major clients of this tenderhearted and melancholic work, provided its intentions are not lost in translation.”
Beyond the Hills - Director Cristian Mungiu (winner of the 2007 Palme d'Or for 4 Months, 3 weeks and 2 Days), staring Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur.
Eric Kohn - Indiewire: “While technically impressive and occasionally quite provocative, Mungiu's latest feature-length effort, Beyond the Hills, is at once more ambitious and flawed -- in other words, only 50 percent post-Palme slump.” Rating B
Peter Bradshaw - The Guardian: “Beyond the Hills is an agonising, mysterious movie — it is the first event at this year's festival which has come close to providing any controversy: there were whistles and jeers at the final blackout. But I found it enthralling, mysterious and intimately upsetting – a terrible demonstration of how poverty creates a space which irrational fear must fill.” Rating 4/5
Stephen Dalton - The Hollywood Reporter: “At well over two hours, this austere psychological drama lacks the political bite and pulse-racing suspense of Mungiu’s highly acclaimed abortion thriller 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. But it should still earn a discerning global audience based on the director’s solid track record and unquestionable technical skill.”
Lawless - Director John Hillcoat, staring Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke, Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska
Eric Kohn - Indiewire: "Lawless lacks the same darkly energizing spirit that made The Proposition such a revelation: It has plenty of gunplay, scowling showdowns and dust-caked setpieces, but little in the way of dynamic filmmaking to imbue those elements with life.” Rating C-
Mike Goodridge - ScreenDaily: “The story, however, does not give Hillcoat much time for the visual or philosophical explorations that have graced his oeuvre to date. While Matt Bondurant’s book ached with the pain of Depression and natural beauty of the Virginia mountains, Hillcoat’s film plays it mainstream.”
David Rooney - The Hollywood Reporter: “If Lawless doesn’t achieve the mythic dimensions of the truly great outlaw and gangster movies, it is a highly entertaining tale set in a vivid milieu, told with style and populated by a terrific ensemble. For those of us who are suckers for blood-soaked American crime sagas from that era, those merits will be plenty.”
Reality - Director Matteo Garrone, staring Aniello Arena and Loredana Simioli
Eric Kohn - Indiewire: "Reality may, in fact, put an end to the idea of Garrone as a traditional neorealist; his naturalism is intentionally misleading right up until the simultaneously haunting and wondrous finale. Critics were comparing it to Martin Scorsese's showbiz satire King of Comedy almost immediately after the first screening at Cannes, an apt reference point since both movies deal not with the pratfalls of fame but its impact on those obsessed with achieving it for the wrong reasons.” Rating A -
Allan Hunter - ScreenDaily: “Matteo Garrone’s first feature since Gomorra (2008) takes in idiosyncratic lurch into quasi-Fellini territory as it offers a whimsical reflection on the corrupting influence of reality television. Mild mannered and meandering Reality fails to make the most of a subject that no longer feels as urgent or immediate as it once did.”
Deborah Young - The Hollywood Reporter: “This good material for a satire on Naples and Italian television isn’t funny enough to go into orbit.”
Rust And Bone - Director Jacques Audiard, staring Matthias Schoenaerts and Marion Cotillard
Eric Kohn - Indiewire: "Rust and Bone remains consistently well-acted and moves along fluidly even though it never obtains the inspired heights of Audiard's previous work.” Rating B+
Todd McCarthy - The Hollywood Reporter: “Gritty treatment of a rather conventional emotional dynamic yields a solid, involving drama.”
Peter Bradshaw - The Guardian: “What could have been simply bizarre, sentimental or contrived here becomes an utterly absorbing love story; Rust and Bone is a tale of a miraculous friendship which evolves into an enthralling and moving romance, wonderfully acted by Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts.” Rating 4/5
Killing Them Softly - Director Andrew Dominik, staring Brad Pitt
It’s a testament to Australian director Andrew Dominik’s considerable story-telling abilities that a movie as nakedly cynical and aggressively repellent in its philosophy as Killing Them Softly is as satisfying as it is.”
Peter Bradshaw - The Guardian: “Andrew Dominik's immensely gripping and brutal world of recession-hit criminals, starring Brad Pitt, is smart and nasty, with a political dimension, too. “ Rating 4/5
Richard Corliss - Time: “[Killing them Softly] has Dominik running for cover in a genre film — a timid, subpar grafting of the immortal Pulp Fiction — with art-house pretensions: a pallid palette, a doctrinaire left-wing take on American mores, the application of anachronistic tunes (Ketty Lester’s” from the ’60s, Cliff Edwards’ Paper Moon from the ’30s) to underline murders, and way too much faith in the extemporaneous skills of its actors.”
The winner of the Palme D’or will be announced on May 27th.