Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Toni Edermann breaks a critical record at Cannes

The German film has registered the highest score ever on Screen Daily’s critics’ grid at Cannes.

Sun, May 15, 2016, 22:00


Every year, the good people at Screen International publish a free daily edition at Cannes that groans with advertisements for Belgian versions of Kung Fu Panda and Bolivian zombie movies. To be fair, the paper also contains news stories, fine commentary and — now a great tradition here — a grid compiled of notices from the world’s critics of the films in competition. For example, this year’s panel includes such luminaries as Stephanie Zacharek out of Time magazine and Tim Robey from the Daily Telegraph. Obviously, you could do something like this online. But there is a nostalgic buzz to the business of plucking a copy from the folk waiting at every street corner. Indeed, the grid now offers a counterbalance to the apparent “consensus” that breaks out within minutes of every press screening. When the noise dies down, it often transpires that film you reckoned was a dead cert for the Palme d’Or is getting cooler responses than you thought.

This is not to suggest that the movie that comes top is guaranteed to win. Indeed, that happens quite rarely. Fair enough. The Jury should not be swayed by the critical mob. Two years ago, Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner broke the record with a stunning 3.6 out of four, but it lost the big prize to Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Winter Sleep. My memory may be deceiving me but I think that, in 2010, Leigh’s Another Year topped the grid and went on to win nothing at all.

Anyway, Screen confirmed today that Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann has broken the record with an eye-watering 3.8. Jeez! Some eccentric Frenchman usually blows a raspberry at even the most admired film. As we pointed out earlier, this doesn’t mean that Ms Ade is guaranteed to become only the second director — after Jane Campion — to win the Palme. But she will certainly regard it as good news.

Donald Clarke