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Candid at Cannes 2015: Day 5 and 6

May 20, 2015

FestivalsFilm + Entertainment | by Francesco Cerniglia


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Even on a Sunday Cannes does not rest, though it does slow down. After hearing the positive buzz around Mia Madre (My Mother), I was anxious to see the Italian film by Nanni Moretti, who returns in competition for the Palme D’or (he already won once, back in 2001 for The Son’s RoomLa Stanza Del Figlio). Centred on dealing with the inevitable loss of family, the sadness, futility and eventual acceptance, the film is genuine and mixes in some humour in the form of John Turturro. But the main character is Margherita (Margherita Buy), a daughter who is finding it difficult to juggle the emotional trauma of seeing her mother in the hospital and her job as a film director, dealing with annoying actor Barry (Turturro). Margherita is desperate to feel useful to her mother, but her brother Giovanni (Nanni Moretti) has everything covered. Poignant, honest and funny, My Mother is a great mix of talent; also John Turturro’s weird dancing is hilarious.

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Kishibe No Tabi (Journey to the Shore) is a Japanese film by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. A sentimental story that also deals with loss, but in this case after it’s all said and done. Mizuki (Eri Fukatsu) mourns her husband who’s been dead for three years, but when he suddenly reappears, she’s given another chance at goodbye. Yusuke (Tadanobu Asano) in fact has returned as a ghost, but unlike most conventional ghosts, he looks and feels alive. Explaining he didn’t feel like it was his time to move on, the two go on a journey together through Japan, visiting all the ghost-friends Yusuke has made in the past three years. The journey turns into a story of finding lost love mixed with exorcism, with more ghosts turning up. It’s this odd mix that gives the film its character and ability to deal with the many losses and unresolved issues that come along. While the direction is laboured on still shots – like most films at Cannes, there’s still energy constantly pushing itself forward. Kishibe No Tabi is part of the Un Certain Regard section.

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On Monday the proceedings reprised with the usual hectic pace. Screening in the Main Competition was La Loi Du Marché (The Measure of a Man), a French film by Stéphane Brizé, starring Vincent Lindon as Thierry, an out-of-work father who has spent the past year looking for work and becomes more and more frustrated with the way he’s been treated by his previous bosses, the bank and the job center. One of the few films to deal with the working class, it is mostly a true representation of the frustrations that are still plaguing people 5 years after the economic crash. It does delve into melodrama towards the end, before returning back to a more realistic approach. Brizé uses a lot of close-up shots on Thierry to emphasise the struggle he’s going through and the critique that is being made against him – one scene particularly strikes where he’s judged on his interview skills by his peers, whose comments are honestly brutal but Thierry maintains a sanguine expression. A strong opening and ending, filled with great performances minus the melodrama make for a great film.

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Outside of competition Disney and Pixar’s Inside Out made its debut at Cannes, leaving the theatre in a thunderous applause, cheers and laughter. The film is filled with creativity, innovation and a simple but moving plot. Taking place mostly in 11-year-old Riley’s head, we see how emotions and memories affect her and most children’s development. Her five controlling emotions being Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust are all anthropomorphised in a control room. This leads to two stories running in tandem, first there’s Riley who has to deal with moving away from her hometown in Minnesota to San Francisco and the second story of her emotions arguing over which is the best way to deal with it. Joy (Amy Poehler) tries to keep everything together while Sadness (Phyllis Smith) tries not to interfere despite her best intentions. Inside Out has a great deal of comedic moments, usually as a result of the ability to see what might be going on in some people’s head: an amazing achievement, director Pete Docter should be proud.

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The Un Certain Regard category offered Las Elegidas (The Chosen Ones) and Rak Ti Khon Kaen (Cemetery of Splendour).

Las Elegidas (dir. David Pablos) is a scary insight into a prostitution ring, starring Nancy Talamantes as Sofia, a fourteen-year-old girl who falls for older boy Ulises (Oscar Torres). At first it all seems too good to be true for Sofia who trusts him completely, going so far as to sleep with him. Ulises, on the other hand, struggles with a moral dilemma: he has been assigned with the task of seducing a girl and force her into prostitution under the request of his father and brother. Unable to bring himself to do so, he lets Sofia in on his secret, admitting he does genuinely love her and the two run away to avoid the wrath of his family. It works for about two minutes before the situation goes from bad to vile. Ulises is beaten and Sofia is put into a brothel. Sex with Sofia is kept off-screen but David Pablos expertly crafts awkward montages of her customers. While Sofia must make at least 6000 Pesos a night (each encounter costing 500 Pesos), Ulises strikes a Faustian deal with his father: in return for releasing Sofia Ulises must bring in another girl. The rest of the film deals with trapping the second girl, Marta (Leidi Gutierrez), and Sofia’s plans to escape. It’s amazing how effective fear can be as an enforcer. Gritty and uncompromising, this is so far one of the festival’s highlights.

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Meanwhile Rak Ti Khon Kaen (Cemetery Of Splendour) had a lot of promise that remained unfulfilled. A plot dealing with the supernatural phenomenon plaguing Thai soldiers who fall asleep for long periods of time. The hospital is assisted by volunteer Jenjira (Jenjira Pongpas Widner), an elderly lady with a limp who has taken a liking to soldier Itt, who has no visitors. The film is a study on the surreal, death and spirituality. It takes the surreal very calmly, but that does not make it good. It almost seems pretentious and ridiculously pointless at times. While there are good elements – several scenes are one long take, for which I must commend the actors involved, at the end of the day, if I have to watch someone defecate and be told it’s artistic, I am going to have to respectfully disagree. The film as a whole throws up a lot of questions, gives some answers but ultimately leaves you with nothing.

Sunny Ramgolam