Back on the Croisette, under Ingrid Bergman's eternal glance, we're preparing ourselves to down the boozy cocktail of highbrow cinema and glitzy razzle-dazzle that only the Cannes film festival can offer. For the next week and a half the film world will descend on this baubley Riviera city, with everyone from Matthew McConaughey to Cate Blanchett potentially floating about.
So what's on show? In the somewhat more populist Out of Competition section, George Miller’s much anticipated Mad Max: Fury Road will, this year, join Pete Doctor’s latest Pixar outing Inside Out, Gasper Noé’s three hour- and 3D!- sex film Love and Senna director Asif Kapadia's Amy- a docu on the late Amy Winehouse. Clearly nothing to sniff at there- unless Gasper Noé has something to say about it- but, as ever, it’s in the main competitions that we can expect to unearth the festival’s brighter gems.
As is usually the case with these sorts of things, little news- aside from the odd synopsis or trailer- has really spilled out. Naturally, we all still crave the bolt from the blue; the dark horse; the surprise package; or whatever you choose to call it; but it’s the form jockeys that one must put one’s money on. So keeping that in mind here are the five competing films that have us most excited.
5. Louder Than Bombs
Joachim Trier (Norway)
Trier’s third collaboration with screenwriter Eskil Vogt also happens to be their first in the English language. Louder Than Bombs concerns a brother and sister who uncover something about their mother’s past when her life’s work as a war photographer is given a retrospective showing. Switching to foreign tongues can be a tricky transition for any director but we expect that Trier and Vogt (a fine director in his own right) have enough flare and ability to pull it off. Isabelle Huppert and Jesse Eisenberg star.
4. Cemetery of Splendour
Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand)
A noticeable number of eyebrows were raised when Apichatpong Weerasethakul failed to land a slot in this year’s main competition, having picked up the Palme d’Or for his last feature length effort, Uncle Boonme Who Can Recall His Past Lives. The Thai director was instead sort of demoted to the festival’s more leftfield sidebar: Un Certain Regard. Such a switch might suggest that his latest is more experimental than previous efforts. The director is one of contemporary cinema’s oddest dreamers. So, naturally, this is no bad news at all…
Jacques Audiard (France)
Seen as a late bloomer by many, director Jacque Audiard had already been in the biz for decades when The Beat That My Heart Skipped came into our field of vision back in 2005. His latest follows a young Tamil Tiger who flees Sri Lanka to take up a job as a caretaker outside Paris. There is a large French contingent in the running this year. This looks to be the host nation's most promising offering.
Denis Villeneuve (Canada)
So another year, another French Canadian vying for the Palme d’Or. Young Xavier Dolan took home the jury prize last year for his much-celebrated Mommy. The director returns this year, albeit as a member of the Coen Brothers jury and, as we can only imagine, he’ll be pleased to see a fellow countryman vying for the great prize.
Since switching to English language films two years ago with Prisoners, Denis Villeneuve has proven himself to be one of the most exciting, and most visceral directors around. That film was brilliant. His follow up, Enemy, was a little more difficult to pin down. This is his first time contesting the Palme d’Or. Many great things are expected.
1. Our Little Sister
Hirokazu Kore-eda (Japan)
52 year old Hirokazu Kore-eda has been honing his humanist style for years. Along the way he has seldom put a foot wrong and he picked up the jury prize in 2013 for Like Father Like Son. His latest offering concerns a group of three sisters who take in their half sister when their father dies.
One of the more startling things about Kore-eda’s films is that the the director seems to be getting better with age. If that is indeed the case, this could be something marvellous.
The billionaire yachts have dropped their anchors; the red carpets are dusted down; and this lowly correspondent will be here throughout.