Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

What should win and what will win at Cannes

Suddenly, it’s all about Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Colour

Sat, May 25, 2013, 21:42


The last film in the official competition – Roman Polanski’s insubstantial Venus in Fur – has screened for a somewhat melancholy press pack. We’ve all made our last feeble attempt to pretend we’ve been working harder than the average coalminer. Steven Spielberg’s jury is preparing to launch final deliberations.

How has it been? It’s been rainy. But if you huddled in the correct corners you could avoid becoming utterly soggy when queuing for entry. My favourite restaurant is still going strong. And…

The queue for Inside Llewyn Davis. Thank feck the film was good!

Oh, that’s not what you meant. You wondered what the films in competition were like. The consensus seems to be that the 66th edition has been a very fine affair. It was not up to the standard of classic years such as 2009 or 2011. But, though the initial programme looked a little underpowered, most directors punched above their weight (including a few from the upper divisions). After the somewhat puzzling This Must be the Place, Paolo Sorrentino hit top form with the splendid The Great Beauty. Abdellatif Kechiche, hitherto respected rather than adored, delivered the stunning Blue is the Warmest Colour and was duly welcomed into the masters’ clubhouse. The Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis confirmed their continuing brilliance. Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives was, according to your preference, either a work of malevolent brilliance or the bloody outpourings of a pretentious genius. (Actually, there’s no dispute. It’s the former. So there!)

It’s a funny business. As the festival ticks along, films that initially seemed like certain prize-winners recede into the mist. After the first few days, both Asghar Farhadi’s The Past and Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Like Father, Like Son seemed certain of winning big. The busyness of the second week has pushed them out of mind. Well, don’t get too distracted by today’s bright shining things. Farhadi is greatly admired and Kore-eda is becoming a modern great. It wouldn’t be the first time that a film from the early days of the festival reappeared to grab an important gong.


Please note that we are ignoring the festival’s conventions about not awarding more than one prize to the same film. These are my favourites as of 21:37 on Saturday night. By 21:42 all may have changed.


The Great Beauty/La Grande Bellezza

The head-spinning tribute to Fellini definitely stays with you.


Blue is the Warmest Colour/La Vie d’Adele Chapitre 1 & 2

I would happily place this at number one. Stunning dissection of a relationship.


Inside Llewyn Davis

The Coens remain on top form.


Nicolas Winding Refn (Only God Forgives)

Sod the naysayers. The film is an absolute hoot.


Inside Llewyn Davis

Okay, we already know what the Coens can do. Don’t hold that against them.


Adèle Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Colour)


Toni Servillo (The Great Beauty)


A few remarks. Firstly, trying to read the make-up of the jury is a mug’s game. The members of this gang — and the president, in particular — always seem to enjoy frustrating expectations. You could argue that the last time a president really seemed to assert his authority was back in 2000 when mad Luc Besson awarded the Palme to mad Dancer in the Dark.

Nonetheless, a great many people are saying that Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Like Father, Like Son suits Spielberg nicely. Being a Japanese film, it gives him the chance to prove his highbrow credentials. But the film also has a gentle message about fatherhood that chimes with the Spielberg aesthetic. Case closed?

I’m not so sure. The growing swell behind Blue is the Warmest Colour has been overpowering in the last few days. The response after the screening on Wednesday was warm, but, once the film had set in, the notion that it might have a serious shot at the Palme d’Or really began to surge. Might it be too sexually explicit for Spielberg? See, I’m trying to read the jury again. That gets you nowhere.

If Warmest Colour does win, however, the jury is suddenly in an awful position. A convention states that the winner of the Palme d’Or can take home no other prize (that rule is broken, but only rarely). That’s why the actors and cast from Amour all went home empty-handed last year (Carlos Reygadas won best director for Post Tenebras Lux, for goodness sake).  Yet the performances by Adèle Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux in Abdellatif Kechiche’s film are so far ahead of everybody else that the following pack is just a collection of microdots. Can they really give the top prize to Warmest Colour and not award those two women? We are preceding on that basis.

The results are announced on Sunday after 6.00 pm. Here’s the nap:


Blue is the Warmest Colour/La Vie d’Adele Chapitre 1 & 2

The press staggered out after three twisty hours. Buzz has been building ever since.


Inside Llewyn Davis

An American president will be reticent about awarding an American film. But second prize will cause less fuss.


The Great Beauty/La Grande Bellezza

The word is that French and Italian critics are much cooler on the picture than the Anglophone bunch. So, it could still get frozen out.



I didn’t think it was all that great. But awards folk do really seem to like old Alexander Payne.


Hirokazu Kore-eda (Like Father, Like Son)

I am disobeying my own dicta and calling this a Spielberg choice. See above.


Bérénice Bejo (The Past)

If, however, Blue is the Warmest Colour doesn’t take a top prize then Adèle Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux have it in the bag. (The stars of Beyond the Hills won jointly last year, so the twin victory isn’t a problem.)


Michael Douglas (Behind the Candelabra)

Or Bruce Dern for Nebraska. Nobody else is at the races.