Cannes has left some masterpieces without a prize - Francesco Boille - Internazionale
The winners of this 72nd edition of the Cannes Film Festival as a whole is very good, even though our Golden Palm was another and we find it exaggerated that the most important prize was awarded to Parasite of Bong Joon-ho. However the award-winning film - for the second time in a row is a work from the Far East, after A family affair by the Japanese Kore-eda Hirokazu, last year's winner - is undoubtedly worthy as we already wrote. The award to the South Korean director should, however, allow a wider audience to finally discover an original, inventive director with a somewhat anarchic spirit. And that at the festival presented a splendid comedy with the perfect mechanism like a watch, which thus serves at its best a satire on the distance between the social classes in his country, and valid also for Western countries, given the continuous economic gap that opens up among the classes.
However, there were more radical, profound and unexpected films in the competition that surprised for its overall quality, as well as the overall selection. Almost no masterpiece - but these are increasingly rare - on the other hand many great or great films, some of them even close to the masterpiece, even if in their majority they are not due to the most famous and long-running authors.
We hope that the films awarded, in their majority, will find an Italian distributor. There are in this list of beautiful surprises and in some cases even UFOs, that is works that have aroused us full wonder, almost unidentifiable cinematographic objects, out of all the schemes. Without prejudice to a French title that we would have given the Palme d'Or, of which we speak later, and the absence of an Italian title such as The Traitor of Marco Bellocchio, the winning works, except one, are the good ones, even if the more often than not in our opinion placed in the wrong position.
A masterpiece is the Brazilian film Bacurau by Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles. In Italy the previous and splendid feature film of the only Mendonça Filho, Aquarius, which he saw at its center, had been distributed, just like in Bacurau, Sonia Braga, the star of the Brazilian cinéma nôvo of the sixties, still magnetic and hieratic. We refer to the long criticism we had written, but here we reiterate the anarchic and iconoclastic freshness of this funny and grave, deep and light, apocalyptic and hopeful, post-modern and archaic film, of revolutionary resistance that always reverses situations when they seem to take a wrong path , that hybrid with a lot of originality, that enchants and indignant. We would have given him the Grand Prize of the jury while we would have given the Jury Prize to the directorial debut, although very strong, of the Franco-Senegalese actress Mati Diop with Atlantique, another film we reviewed with real enthusiasm.
But the jury decided otherwise by awarding the jury prize to Bacurau ex aequo with Les Misérables, a very successful first work - and of which we wrote positively - but not the genius of the French director of Malian origin Ladj Ly. Two films however, Bacurau and Atlantique, which make deep strings vibrate. The light, the spaces and the intensity of the mestizo community of sertão, of Atlantique, the wind, the breeze, the lights that illuminate the gorges where they find the last of the Dakar suburbs shelter remain of Bacurau.
Both focus, dealing with their respective themes from not obvious angles, two of the most important issues in which we struggle, such as the fascistisation of democracies - not demolished as in the past, but increasingly reduced to empty envelopes - as the case of Brazil teaches with the election of Bolsonaro, and the continuous and tragic exodus of the poorest and most desperate of the developing countries, a tragedy that affects not only those who leave but also those who remain. Even for how it stays at home. Perhaps surrounded, almost haunted, given the style of the film, by these terrible absences.
Frankly, there was no need to give yet another award to Pedro Almodóvar - also because his Dolor y gloria is beautiful especially in the second part and does not reach peaks of great depth - rewarding Antonio Banderas as the best actor, however nice he is the latter; and there was no need even to reward the Dardenne brothers for the best direction for Le jeune Ahmed, where the two brothers abandon the usual social issues centered on work, and succeed in the exploit of humanizing the figure of the (possible) future terrorist by means of the portrait of a pretty teenager from Maghreb origin who falls into the manipulative web of a fundamentalist imam. The result, however, is a little obvious, a bit boring in spite of its brevity (85 minutes), a bit rhetorical, a little lacking in responsibility, finally, on the internal and external policies of the rich world governments, even if not there are several moments of real finesse in the construction of situations, of psychologies - starting with Ahmed - and in the relational dynamics between the various characters. The finish is admirable.
Perhaps these prizes are however the expression of the search for a balance between the old glories of Cannes and the new names, a symptom of a festival that is trying to renew itself without losing its connection with its tradition, a need that the jury seems to have wanted to collect in its own verdict. The French award of Italian origins Céline Sciamma (author of beautiful films like Tomboy and Black Diamond in the past) for the insipid The portrait of the girl in focus, with Valeria Golino among the performers, is a story of pseudo-feminine passions in France of 1770 and scholastic questions on art worthy of the first year of studies in the fine arts. The award for best female performance to English Emily Beecham, the protagonist of Little Joe, the new film by Austrian director Jessica Hausner (former author of the excellent Lourdes), a strange hybridization between thriller and dystopic science fiction, is unexpected.
A jewel of surrealism to the Jacques Tati instead the film of the Palestinian Elia Suleiman It must be heaven penultimate title of the competition very applauded at the time of its projection to the public. The special mention of the jury is important but it certainly sounds a bit like a sop to an author who, for some time, deserved a strong recognition.
We will not dwell here but there is at least an absolute masterpiece that arrived almost at the end of the competition, which deserved La Palma - almost ex aequo with the Brazilian Bacurau -, and probably our favorite film not only of the competition but of the entire festival. It's called Mektoub, my love - Intermezzo, of the French director of Tunisian origin Abdellatif Kechiche, a continuation of what should be a trilogy opened by Mektoub, my love - Canto one, presented in competition in Venice in 2017 and then distributed in Italy though unfortunately, that first masterpiece was lacking in that first chapter.
Overall the festival has expressed a remarkable selection in all sections, as mentioned at the beginning, recognized by most of the international critics, even the most severe. The Un certain regard section, which alone included nine other debut films, offered its best selection for years, as also attested by the Brazilian film awards Karim Aïnouz, A Vida invisível de Eurídice Gusmão, original and powerful story of sisters in conflict with a reactionary environment; to Chiara Mastroianni for her performance in Chambre 212 by Christophe Honoré; to the young Russian director Kantemir Balagov, awarded as best director for Beanpole, set in a St. Petersburg at the end of World War II, a courageous and profound portrait of a friendship with ambiguous connotations - including sexual connotations - between two women. Perhaps it does not reach the intensity of his highly acclaimed debut film (Tesnota, also presented in 2017 in Cannes), because there is something cold, indeed more exactly, than icy; however the film remains impressive for its narrative and visual construction as well as for interpretations; the jury's prize went to the extraordinary Liberté of the Spanish Albert Serra, one of the most refined and provocative authors of the new lever of directors released in the last ten to fifteen years. Perhaps at times a bit superficial on the question of libertinism, but at the same time full of subtleties and brilliant choices, this filiation of the Marquis De Sade is set at night in a wood where nobles of the reign of Louis XIV, both men and women, yes they devote themselves to the most vile pleasures together with their valets; special mention of the jury to Jeanne of Bruno Dumont, one of the most interesting French directors, recently returned to being distributed in Italy.
Many others, however, were the interesting films in the section. The famous invasion of bears in Sicily by Dino Buzzati certainly stands out. Costing at least five years of work, the film, much appreciated by much of international critics and to which it participated in the writing of the script Thomas Bidegain - Jacques Audiard's screenwriter - is a very colorful fairy tale, of another time in the spirit as well as modern in the modalities, which makes the restless infantile imaginary become visionary and pictorial almost to the extreme. In Italy it will be distributed by Bim.
The festival has proven to be independent at all levels. In the choice of many politically uncomfortable or politically incorrect films; and to be, independently, by companies like Netflix, demonstrating that the cinema produces excellent works, and often even more courageous, without the large multinationals. The new Quinzaine des réalisateurs, historically the breeding ground of discoveries of first-rate talents, directed for the first time by a young Italian, Paolo Moretti - whose quality of selection was recognized by the severe French press while hosting a Netflix movie (Wounds by Babak Anvari, the only exception to the festival) - offered surprising and sometimes radical works such as Ang Hupa, the river opera by the great Filipino director Lav Diaz (winner of the 2016 Golden Lion in Venice with The woman who left), a sort of dystopia set in 2034 where his country and all of Southeast Asia are upset by climatic cataclysms and where the sun no longer rises; or as On va tout péter by the American director of Polish origin, but resident in France, Lech Kowalski. A generous and politically incorrect film that follows the tribulations of the workers' protest of the automotive component manufacturer GM & S, threatened with closure. Kowalski, who was also arrested and released during filming, brought with him a delegation of workers, long applauded, on the Quinzaine stage, who with sympathy and irony made the drama of the situation and of how it is not left clear. they have no real right of choice, and therefore any future, in the current globalized economy.
A further expression of a political festival whose perfect emblem in this edition was the omnipresence of the zombie in almost all sections - in the Quinzaine, Zombie child by the French Bertrand Bonello - used provocatively as a poetic and political metaphor together. Perhaps the omen of a global future. On the other hand - as never before - the presence of directors who on the whole provided important, sometimes surprising, works is very much alive.