Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Blue is the Warmest Colour wins top prize at Cannes

Abdellatif Kechiche’s searing lesbian drama confirms critical buzz to take the Palme d’Or

Sun, May 26, 2013, 20:08


For a while, back in the seventh century, it looked as if Asghar Farhadi’s The Past might be in with a chance. Then, briefly, Hirokazu Kore-Eda’s Like Father Like Son surged ahead. The Coens’ Inside Llewyn Davis had its time. But, when critics had fully digested Abdellatif Kechiche’s extraordinary Blue is the Warmest Colour, they quickly elevated it to the status of near-unbeatable favourite. On emerging, both Ms T Brady and Mr D Clarke, your representatives, mimed large tick gestures. I very slightly preferred Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty — surprisingly a complete shut-out at tonight’s awards ceremony — but it is impossible to argue with the quality of Blue is the Warmest Colour. Three hours long, largely concerned with the romantic doings of a naive teacher and a bohemian hipster, the film builds with quite extraordinary grace into a ferocious tale of passion fulfilled and thwarted. Pundits are already wondering if Kechiche will be able to release the film with its numerous, highly explicit sex scenes uncut. Surely, the public can cope if we critics can. We’ll see.

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The film seemed certain of victory when it was announced that Bérénice Bejo had won best actress for her turn in The Past. Why? Well, the festival’s arcane rules state that no performers from the Palme d’Or winner are eligible for acting prizes. And Adèle Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux, stars of the film, were clearly streets ahead of any of their competitors. It looked as if they were about to get shut out. Happily, Steven Spielberg’s jury relented and awarded the women honorary Palmes d’Or. That was only fair. But the time has surely come to reconsider that weird rule.

Our predictions weren’t too far off the money. Michael Douglas failed to take best actor, but our second pick, Bruce Dern, ended up with that gong. The only real surprises were the complete exclusion of The Great Beauty and Amat Escalante’s best director win for puppy-strangling favourite Heli. That last film is, for all its harshness, well worth keeping an eye open for. It also admits an interesting piece of trivia: after Carlos Reygadas last year, Mexicans have won now best director in two successive years.

Stay tuned for a last farewell later. Here are the results from the Côte d’Azur jury:

Palme d’Or: Blue Is the Warmest Colour by Abdellatif Kechiche

Honorary Palme d’Or: Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux for Blue Is the Warmest Colour

Grand Prix: Inside Llewyn Davis by Joel & Ethan Coen

Best Director: Amat Escalante for Heli

Best Screenplay: Jia Zhangke for A Touch of Sin

Best Actress: Bérénice Bejo for The Past

Best Actor: Bruce Dern for Nebraska

Jury Prize: Like Father, Like Son by Hirokazu Koreeda