Cannes 2019: Days without Elle Fanning fainting? Two

Cannes diary: Vivarium, Tarantino, Oh Mercy, Seven Beauties, Matthias & Maxime

Elle Fanning: back on her feet at the Cannes screening of Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood. Photograph: Antonin Thuillier/AFP/Getty

Elle Fanning: back on her feet at the Cannes screening of Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood. Photograph: Antonin Thuillier/AFP/Getty

 

Days without Elle Fanning fainting: two

Two nights have passed since Elle Fanning passed out at an official festival dinner, a swoon the actor attributed to a too-tight vintage dress. Taking to Instagram, the youngest member of the Cannes jury said: “Oops, had a fainting spell tonight in my 1950s Prada prom dress but it’s all good!! #dresstootight #timeofthemonth”

It was all so thrilling. Witnesses claimed Colin Firth dashed to provide assistance while Marion Cotillard placed a hand over her heart as Fanning was taken away. “Elle Fanning just exposed the dangerous side of the red carpet,” ran a headline in Stylist.

Other outlets noted Fanning’s hugely dramatic, big-hatted Dior red-carpet walk to the premiere of Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood, a film that stars her sister, Dakota, as the Manson girl Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme. Happily, the siblings share a stylist in Samantha McMillen, so any mutterings about a De Havilland-Fontaine rift are greatly exaggerated.

And the winner is…

The first of this year’s prizes were announced at the Critics’ Week sidebar on Wednesday evening, with the top gong going to Jeremy Clapin’s much-fancied I Lost My Body, the first feature-length animation to triumph at the Cannes Festival’s parallel selection.

In even better news, the terrific new Irish film Vivarium has been awarded the Gan Foundation Award for Distribution. A Kafkaesque nightmare in which a young couple (Jessie Eisenberg and Imogen Poots) move into a prefab suburbia that might meet with Eoghan Murphy’s approval, Vivarium is the first Irish film to appear in the sidebar since 1968.

Starting in 1962, Critics’ Week is one of the oldest adjunct Cannes competitions, and has launched the careers of Bernardo Bertolucci, Leos Carax, Wong Kar-wai, Jacques Audiard, Gaspar Noé, François Ozon, and Alejandro González Iñárritu.

‘I reject your hypothesis’: Quentin Tarantino and Margot Robbie with Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio. Photograph: John Phillips/Getty
‘I reject your hypothesis’: Quentin Tarantino and Margot Robbie with Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio. Photograph: John Phillips/Getty

Once upon a time in Cannes

Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood has received mixed, if mostly positive notices from its Cannes premiere. But there was nothing mixed about the response of Quentin Tarantino, its director, to a New York Times journalist at its press conference. When asked why Margot Robbie wasn’t given more to say or do in the role of Sharon Tate in his newest film, he snapped “I reject your hypothesis.”

Robbie came to the rescue with an attempt to answer the question. “I think the moments I was on screen gave a moment to honour Sharon,” the Australian said about the murdered actor. “I think the tragedy was the loss of innocence. To show the wonderful sides of her could be done without speaking.” As she spoke, her director certainly managed to convey his annoyance by visibly seething.

And today’s reviews...

Cannes 2019: Léa Seydoux in Oh Mercy
Cannes 2019: Léa Seydoux in Oh Mercy

Oh Mercy
★★☆☆☆
Directed by Arnaud Desplechin. Starring Roschdy Zem, Léa Seydoux, Sara Forestier, Antoine Reinartz, Chloé Simoneau, Betty Cartoux, Jérémy Brunet, Stéphane Duquenoy. In competition
The 14th feature from the veteran French director Arnaud Desplechin was adapted from the documentary Roubaix, Commissariat Central, which may explain why it fails to connect.

A messy police procedural that feels like an episode of The Bill expanded to fill hours and hours, Oh Mercy half-heartedly sets up the classic pairing of older, wiser cop and younger gun. The saintly police captain Yakoub Daoud (Roschdy Zem, with a performance that is better than the material) has almost Holmesian powers of divination and, having an Algerian background, can talk to communities in the postindustrial community of Roubaix who might be unresponsive to other cops.

As a first assignment the newcomer detective, Louis (Reinartz), investigates an arson attack and interviews two potential witnesses, Claude (Léa Seydoux) and Marie (Sara Forestier). Around this central plank are pointless character details : many scenes depict Louis’s Christian beliefs to no real end, a disturbing serial-rapist subplot is introduced to no real end, the captain’s interest in racehorsing is trumpeted to no real end.

The primary hook – a murder investigation – takes an eternity to explore without yielding anything like a satisfactory denouement. The lighting is Fanta orange or broke. The tone wavers between gumshoe and grit. The loud, melodramatic score would belong in a Douglas Sirk film but baffles here, even as a counterpoint. Let’s not even start on the idea of casting Seydoux, one of the planet’s most glamorous people, as a greasy lowlife.

Cannes 2019: Seven Beauties
Cannes 2019: Seven Beauties

Seven Beauties
★★★★★
Directed by Lina Wertmüller. Starring Giancarlo Giannini, Fernando Rey, Shirley Stoler. Cannes Classics
The film-maker Lina Wertmüller and the actor Giancarlo Giannini arrived at Cannes this week for the presentation of the restored version of Seven Beauties, the enduring 1975 film that earned four Oscar nominations, including the one for best director – the first time a woman was shortlisted for that Academy Award.

It remains an extraordinary, absurd, slapstick, horrifying, obscene, uproarious picaresque, one that feels less dated than later lauded Holocaust films, such as Schindler’s List and Life Is Beautiful.

You’ve heard of the banality of evil; Seven Beauties concerns the idiocy of fascism. Pasqualino (Giannini), a Neapolitan hoodlum and womaniser, is so hypocritically obsessed with policing the sex lives of his sisters that he ends up killing a pimp. He manages a transfer to a psychiatric unit, then the army and, finally, a concentration camp, where he attempts to weasel his way into the affections of a woman commandant (Shirley Stoler).

Pasqualino isn’t clever enough to be an antihero. He’s simply dumb enough to sing Mussolini’s praises without a second thought. When a Spanish anarchist (Fernando Rey) breaks it down for him – the lower wages, the union busting, the strongman fantasy – it’s not enough to get through the wormy central character’s skull. By the final act he has dreamt up a ludicrous strongman fantasy of his own. An unsettlingly timely unearthing of one of Cannes’s greatest treasures.

Cannes 2019: Matthias & Maxime
Cannes 2019: Matthias & Maxime

Matthias & Maxime
★★★★☆
Directed by Xavier Dolan. Starring Xavier Dolan, Gabriel D’Almeida Freitas, Pier-Luc Funk, Antoine Pilon, Samuel Gauthier, Adib Alkhalidey, Catherine Brunet, Marilyn Castonguay, Micheline Bernard, Harris Dickinson, Anne Dorval. In competition
In 2009 the wildly talented teenage auteur Xavier Dolan made his Cannes debut with How I Killed My Mother. Since then the Croisette has been the Québécois writer-director’s happy place: all but two of his eight feature films have premiered at Cannes, scooping the Jury Prize for Mother, in 2014, and the Grand Prix for It’s Only the End of the World, in 2016.

That award may have taken the sting off the negative reviews: Vanity Fair called it the most disappointing film at Cannes; Variety said it was frequently excruciating. Dolan’s English-language debut, The Death & Life of John F Donovan, received an even worse drubbing.

Happily, Matthias & Maxime, although lacking the dizzying ambition of Dolan’s Laurence Anyways (2012) or Mother (2014), is a return to form. The plot, in which two lifelong best friends are persuaded to kiss as part of someone’s student film, has been sketched out before in Lynn Shelton’s Humpday.

Dolan, directing himself in a film for the first time since Tom at the Farm, deep-delves into male friendships, not only the platonic-plus connection between the pristine lawyer protagonist (Gabriel D’Almeida Freitas) and his economically deprived best friend (Dolan) but also between their larger circle of bickering, bantering chums. Harris Dickinson adds a goofy dimension to toxic masculinity. Away from the boys there are multiple mothers, including a monstrous one essayed by the Dolan regular Anne Dorval.

An epic swimming sequence provides razzle-dazzle in a film that’s mostly content to be intimate and circumspect. Fiendishly clever edits (by Dolan himself) and a singalong soundtrack confirm Matthias & Maxime as a return to form.

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