With the Dardenne brothers, Cristian Mungiu or James Gray, there were many regulars in the competition who offered solid cinema but no surprises. On the contrary, the festival, which ends on Saturday, relied on many well-known names, but few exciting additions or new talents. A few thoughts on who could take home the grand prize of the 75th Film Festival.
The film that has been the most talked about in the past few days was probably “Triangle of Sadness”. The satire of the Swede Ruben Östlund (who already won a Golden Palm in 2017) takes place on a luxury yacht and caricatures the world of the super-rich.
The premiere of this film, which has a very surprising twist, was accompanied by some laughter in the cinema hall. Woody Harrelson is remembered as a Marxist, constantly drunk captain and a completely escalating dinner where the guests spit out or otherwise spit out their just eaten oysters in all directions, which Östlund shows in many details. For some critics, however, the whole thing was a bit too coarse or flat.
It was different with “Armageddon Time”, which some believed to be able to win the main prize. US director James Gray processes his own childhood in it. The film follows the life of Jewish boy Paul and his black classmate Johnny in 1980s New York. Based on Paul’s experiences, the film tells of racism and social inequalities in the USA. The drama is emotional and convinces with a strong cast (including Anthony Hopkins and Anne Hathaway).
One of the star directors in this year’s competition is the Russian filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov, who in “Tchaikovsky’s Wife” tells the story of the desolate marriage of the composer Peter Tchaikovsky and his wife Antonina Miliukova. The dark drama is remembered with images that often look like elaborate old paintings.
Serebrennikov would be the first Russian filmmaker to win the film festival’s top prize. In view of the war of aggression in Ukraine, many doubted that a Russian could win the main prize. But the drama was well received by critics.
This also applies to “Broker” by Hirokazu Koreeda. The Japanese director already has a Golden Palm at home (“Shoplifters”). Koreeda is not really breaking new ground: his new film is also about a young woman who joins a group of petty criminals.
“Broker” tells the story of a young woman who gives up her child in a baby hatch, men who sell babies on the black market, and two detectives who want to get to the bottom of it all. The masterfully played song Kang-ho (“Parasite”) leads the ensemble of this crime story, which is touching and funny at the end.
What about the contributions of the other well-known names? In “Crimes of the Future” David Cronenberg returns to his roots of body horror – without adding exciting new ideas to the whole thing. In “Tori and Lokita”, the Dardenne brothers tell the story of two young migrants – confident and sober, but not really surprising.
Palm winner Cristian Mungiu at least delivers with “RMN” an atmospherically dense work about political conflicts in rural Transylvania. And Claire Denis in “Stars at Noon” really only convinces with an excellent leading actress (Margaret Qualley) in an otherwise moderately told story.
The entry of another woman in the competition was eagerly awaited on Friday. In «Showing Up», US director Kelly Reichardt tells the story of an artist (Michelle Williams) who is preparing for an important exhibition and at the same time has to settle her life and conflicts with family and friends. If the film wins, it would be only the third time in film festival history that a woman has taken home the award.