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  • Writer's pictureHunter Friesen

A Recap of the 2021 Cannes Film Festival

This past summer, I was able to live out one of my dreams by attending the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, located on the glamorous French Riviera. As the festival is invite-only, this adventure was made possible through an ambassadorship for American student film critics. This year’s lineup featured one of the finest selections of international cinema. And while I attended for only three days out of the total ten that the festival runs, I was able to see ten films from all over the world, with a few representing American cinema on the world stage. Fortunately, I did not see a single bad film, so my thoughts will be entirely positive.

The Story of My Wife (3/5)

The Story of My Wife is so handsomely crafted that the technicals alone are enough of a reason to watch. But while your eyes will always be dazzled, the film seriously lacks enough substance to warrant a 169-minute runtime.

It also carries the baggage of requiring its European cast to predominantly speak in English, a dialect that none of the actors seem comfortable with, causing unintentional comedic moments because of the stilted dialogue.

Lamb (3/5)

My first ever screening at Cannes!

Too bad it couldn't have been something a bit better.

Like all reviews have already stated, do not look anything up before watching this. Even your wildest imagination will not match the absurdity found here.

The molasses-like pacing is what lessened the effect the allegory had on me. It also didn't help that a nearby beach party was blasting "Party Rock Anthem" for literally the entire runtime. Those two factors led to about two dozen walkouts within the one-hundred-person theatre.

It's no surprise A24 bought this. This will snug right into the genre of "elevated horror" that they have prided themselves on.

Red Rocket (3/5)

Slotting nicely with Baker's filmography and distributor A24, Red Rocket is one hell of a ride from beginning to end. There may be some potholes along the way, but they're not enough to stop this film from reaching its satisfying destination.

Memoria (3.5/5)

Memoria is a masterwork for the most devoted of movie fans who need an escape from the noise of the modern world. It's wildly beautiful and imaginative, challenging your patience and outlooks on life and death. Go in with an open mind, and you may find yourself enlightened by what Weerasethakul is offering in his most accessible (although that's not saying much) film yet.

Paris, 13th District (3.5/5)

As filled with millennial insight as it is filled with nudity, Paris 13th District is a lighter affair from the dependable Jacques Audiard. Barring a few minor setbacks within the script, Audiard's latest is an insightfully sexy, arthouse delight that will connect with younger viewers, possibly more than they are expecting.

Titane (3.5/5)

Titane requires a lot from the viewer, such as a mental fortitude and an iron gut. It's an uncompromising vision that bites off more than it can chew from time to time but still sticks the landing due to the outstanding, committed performances from Rousselle and Lindon. With her latest film, Ducournau has displayed a boldness to go where no other modern-working director would dare venture. Just make sure to watch it on an empty stomach and with an open mind.

A Hero (4/5)

While he may not be working at the absolute height of his power, Asghar Farhadi's A Hero is still an engaging feature film by a master storyteller doing what he does best. There's a lot to absorb and digest, with some of the material being quite rough around the edges. However, few filmmakers are as gifted as Farhadi at showing the complicated nature of everyday life and ringing it for every ounce its worth to create a powerful drama.

Nitram (4/5)

Justin Kurzel's Nitram is one of his best films as it explores a real-life tragedy with both grace and severity. While it may be an experience that wrecks people physically and emotionally due to its humanistic intensity, there is hope that there will be a greater understanding of this dark chapter in human history upon leaving the theater.

Annette (4/5)

From the visionary minds of The Sparks Brothers and director, Leos Carax comes a rock musical of pure boldness. Stars Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard grab onto that boldness and run with it, creating several musical numbers that need to be seen to be believed. With Carax’s output being irregular, each of his features is something to treasure, especially when they’re this good.

The French Dispatch (5/5)

A visual masterpiece bursting at the seams with talent both on and off the screen, The French Dispatch is a film by a filmmaker working at the absolute height of their powers. And while I’m not a proponent of rewatching films, I’ve seen this specific one three times in as many months, and will surely be watching it on a regular basis for the foreseeable future.

I worry about how Wes Anderson will be able to top this with his next film (which is due this year). But until then, I’ll stay in the present and be thankful that something this magical is allowed to exist in a world that only seems to get bleaker.

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