I will always remember where I was when I finally became aware of the grand, unifying theme of the 65th Cannes Film Festival. I was being shouted at by an angry Punjabi man while waiting in a queue to watch a documentary about rubbish dumps.
“How can you say that the Haneke should not win the Palme d’Or?” he thundered, after he overheard me suggest to a fellow critic that Michael Haneke’s Love was perhaps not the most deserving contender for the festival’s top prize. “The Haneke is a perfect film! Of course it should win the Palme! It should win everything!”
He was waggling his index finger inches from my face, and I felt a speck of warm spittle hit my cheek. “If the festival does not give the Haneke every award,” he crescendoed, “it will be a disgrace!”
A lot of this kind of thing goes on in Cannes: strangers shouting and waggling their fingers at you, mainly in queues. But the argument made by my new friend I didn’t catch his name was, in a way, irrefutable: Love does have an eerie perfection about it, and for that reason it has been the most critically adored film of the festival. The camera movements are accurate to the millimetre and its two lead performers, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, are precision personified. And if a film is perfect, surely that makes it the best by default?
I’m not so sure. As almightily impressive as Haneke’s film is, I far preferred the imprecise, passionate whirl of Jacques Audiard’s Rust and Bone; the muddy boots and bloody fingernails of Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly; and the adrenalin-surging moral rollercoaster of Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt.
At a time when most of the world seems to be mired in financial and poltical uncertainty, many of the films at Cannes are about ordered lives upended by chaos. Some directors have tried to control the chaos, others have embraced it. Only on Sunday will we discover which of the two approaches comes out on top.
Strange Random Film Quote:
I don’t take the movies seriously, and anyone who does is in for a headache. – Bette Davis
- Michael Haneke tempts Jean-Louis Trintignant out of screen retirement for Cannes entry ‘Amour’ (foxnews.com)
- Haneke, Loach among Cannes highlights thus far (pbpulse.com)
- CORRECTED-Cannes director Haneke faces death in moving “Love” (vancouverdesi.com)
- Cannes 2012 diary: day six (guardian.co.uk)
- Jean-Louis Trintignant back on screen in ‘Amour’ (sfgate.com)
- Cannes 2012 Critic’s Notebook (theartsyfilmblog.com)
- Cannes feels the love (thisislondon.co.uk)