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Cannes Review Roundup

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June 8, 2024
By:
Hunter Friesen
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Another Cannes Film Festival is in the books, which means it’s time to decompress from all the commotion and gather my thoughts on everything I saw. This year I watched a personal best of fifteen films within the Official Competition lineup during my three-day stint, an almost Olympian feat that will likely force me to upgrade my contact prescription for my already deteriorated eyes. 


Full reviews for Megalopolis, Kinds of Kindness, The Apprentice, The Substance, Emilia Perez, and Anora have already been published. This article will serve as a catch-all for everything else, with the films listed chronologically according to my schedule. But make no mistake, while these films are being given short-take reviews, that does not mean they hold a smaller presence within my memory, as the festival always has a knack for unveiling works that bury themselves deep into your conscious, revealing slowly over the proceeding months.


Grand Tour

Director Miguel Gomes’ film is a work lost in time and space, both in its story and filmmaking. Its titular tour of South Asia is captured through almost silent era techniques, with ultra-grainy black-and-white cinematography and a dream-like story of two traversing lovers. Mixed into this historical story is modern documentary footage of the same locations, a juxtaposition of the land and its people in the century since.


I’ll admit, the biggest reason I sought this out was because it was the only opportunity I had to see something in the famed Grand Theatre Lumiere. I’ll be in a better headspace when I catch up with it again when it most likely reaches the States next year. (3/5)


Bird

Bird gradually warms your heart as it navigates the gutters of England, a favorite spot for Cannes regular Andrea Arnold. I do wish that Arnold had attempted to stretch herself a little more creatively over the first ⅔ of the runtime. The “been there, done that” attitude does get broken up by a surprising element, one that I didn't entirely agree with. But I can’t deny that it had some emotional effect.


Nykiya Adams delivers a great performance in her debut, with Barry Keoghan and Franz Rogowski as their usual freaky selves. There’s also a fun Saltburn reference that got a lot of laughs, although it was definitely unintentional as this was shot before Fennell’s film was released. (3.5/5)


The Shrouds

Was this supposed to be a comedy? Because it’s so poorly written and performed that at times I couldn’t tell. I did get the feeling that Cronenberg was initially aware of the unintentionally comedic concept of a man creating an app that lets you watch your loved ones decompose in their graves, but then it all is steered down such a self-serious road that you can’t help but laugh at it. Cronenberg throws a lot of ideas and plot developments at the well, most of them way too autobiographical for us to comprehend.


Crimes of the Future was my biggest disappointment at Cannes 2022, with this easily (re)laying claim to that title. Is there an award that’s the opposite of the Palme d’Or? (2/5)


Oh, Canada

A typical Paul Shrader film as it tackles a man wrecked by the guilt of his past. But it’s not all doom and gloom within a world of crime, as Schrader’s adaptation of Russell Banks’ novel has a more melancholic glimpse into a life roughly lived. Where has this version of Richard Gere been all these years?!?


Some bizarre directorial choices, such as Jacob Elordi and Gere swapping places in their respective timelines and Uma Thurman cast as multiple characters, prevent this from being a definitive film that Schrader could potentially go out on. (3.5/5)


Limonov: The Ballad

Cannes' new favorite Russian ambassador Kirill Serebrennikov delivers a biopic with a lot of style, but not much substance, at least not in the forms my Western brain could comprehend. The clash of hemispheres makes for a jarringly interesting experience, with Ben Whishaw’s stunning titular performance almost convincing you he’s playing a layered character. A fascinating disappointment that I’d be welcome to revisit once I dive into Serebrennikov’s previous works. (3/5)


Beating Hearts

How does a musical work without any songs? Pretty, actually. Gilles Lellouche directors the hell out of this epic gangster drama, crafting a romantic odyssey with the visual flair of West Side Story and the grit of La Haine. Both sets of our star-crossed lovers are wonderful together. (3.5/5)


The Girl with the Needle

My personal Palme d’Or winner! Magnus von Horn descends us into a haunting time in Denmark, drip-feeding dread through his claustrophobic 4:3 camerawork. The blacks are as dark as night, and the whites are blindingly bright, a combination that resembles the horror of The Lighthouse with the bleak beauty of Cold War. Lovers of ultra-depressing European arthouse pieces keep on winning! (4/5)


The Seed of the Sacred Fig

Without a doubt the most important film of the festival, Mohammad Rasoulof’s statement about his native land both directly and indirectly dismantles the current Iranian regime through gripping imagery and performances. It succeeds as both a political statement and a taut thriller, although it leans a little too much on the latter in its final stages and oddly opts for metaphors after it has already effectively communicated so literally. (3.5/5)


All We Imagine as Light

As the first Indian film in the Official Competition in almost thirty years, Payal Kapadia’s sophomore feature certainly had a lot to live up to. It’s a quietly powerful film about the people that inhabit Mumbai, a city that never seems to sleep. It takes its time to reveal itself, but fully hits the landing once it all comes together in the final stages. The score and luminous cinematography were both among the best of the festival. (3.5/5)

'The Bikeriders' Review

It’s all good and fun on the surface, there’s just not enough under the hood to make it into the beast it strives to be.

'Inside Out 2' Review

It's a delightful return to the world of emotions, bringing back the spark that we once consistently expected from Pixar.

'Tuesday' Review

It all comes together to make something more than the sum of its parts, which are all equally fascinating to pick apart and dissect.

Cannes Review Roundup

Another Cannes Film Festival is in the books, which means it’s time to decompress from all the commotion and gather my thoughts on everything I saw.

'Anora' Review

I’m pretty sure Greta Gerwig’s Cannes jury only needed the initial thirty seconds to declare this their Palme d’Or winner.
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