Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cannes Film Festival 2012 (Part Three)

IFI Director Ross Keane reports back from a whirlwind trip to Cannes.

Part Three

My final day at Cannes concluded with some notable and thought-provoking features, before ending with the latest from the legendary Alain Resnais.

Alain Resnais - Vous n'avez encore rien vu © FIF/LF

Beyond the Walls (Hors les Murs) is an impressive first feature from David Lambert. Opening with similarities to Andrew Haigh’s recent Weekend, it begins with Paulo (Matila Malliarakis) attracting the attention of bartender Ilir (Guillaume Gouix) and, unable to make his own way home, is given a bed for the night by the barman. The film could easily have descended into clichĂ© as we soon realise that Paulo has an overly-trusting girlfriend back at home, but the story quickly moves onto more uncertain terrain when their relationship comes to an abrupt end and Paulo turns to Ilir in his hour of need. What follows is an interesting take on the twists and turns of any relationship. The screenplay is particularly strong with some very quirky and black humour, at its best when the new couple attempt to make some purchases in a sex shop. Then, each time the tone of the film appears to be set, it changes gear, and we end up with a film that is far more interesting and affecting once things start to get a little darker. With wonderful performances, this is a very impressive first feature.

At the top of the red carpet before the screening of Beyond The Hills

Thomas Vinterberg is probably best-known for his 1998 hit Festen. Here, with The Hunt, he makes a return to the theme of child abuse, this time focusing on the repercussions as kindergarten teacher Lucas (an extraordinary Mads Mikkelsen) is falsely accused by a young girl (an equally impressive Annika Wedderkopp). The witch hunt that ensues forms the basis of the film as the community turns on Lucas - hence the film’s title and not the deer hunting that tops and tails the piece. All of the cast turn in fantastic performances and it’s a truly absorbing film, with the scene in the supermarket particularly spellbinding as Lucas is determined to be allowed to still go about his life despite the open hostilities of the locals. There are some flaws – would an experienced childcare professional really react in such a fashion and provide a child with such leading questions? But that aside, Vinterberg is back with a vengeance and the final scene is truly gripping.

Alain Resnais and cast - Vous n'avez encore rien vu © AFP

In no time at all, I found myself at my final film of the Festival, but would the latest offering from 89-year-old French veteran Alain Resnais, You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet, live up to its name? Based around Jean Anouilh’s 1941 play Eurydice, the film is a gathering of French cinema royalty! Resnais (Hiroshima mon amour) brings together such names as Lambert Wilson, Michel Piccoli, Mathieu Amalric and Anne Consigny to name but a few. The ‘plot’ brings together these stars of French cinema, each playing themselves, as they gather following the death of mutual friend and theatre director Antoine D'Anthac (Denis Podalydès). They have each been summoned as all had previously starred in one of his productions of Eurydice and now, from beyond the grave, he needs their collective approval for a young theatre company to be given permission to perform his production. What follows is a bizarre film within a film, or play within a play. The actors watch the production on screen, and we watch them join in and participate by running the lines of the roles they once held. Does it work? That’s questionable. At times it seems like an overly indulgent piece. But hey, it is Resnais, so who are we to argue?

Ross Keane

Read parts one and two of the Cannes blog.

Photo credits: Festival de Cannes, IFI


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