Irish co-production ‘The Lobster’ wins Cannes Jury Prize

Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan’ wins Palme d’Or to gasps in the auditorium

The Irish co-production The Lobster, starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, has won the Jury Prize at the 68th Cannes Film Festival. Essentially the event's bronze medal, the gong has, in previous years, gone to such prestigious films as Michelangelo Antonioni's L'avventura and Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal.

This is the among the greatest awards triumphs for an Irish film since Ken Loach's The Wind That Shakes the Barley took the Palme d'Or here in 2006. Yorgos Lanthimos, Greek director of the picture, was in Cannes to accept the much-deserved gong.

There were great gasps in the auditorium - and boos in the adjacent press room - when the winner of the Palme d'Or was announced: Jacques Audiard's Dheepan.

The tale of a former Tamil Tiger rebuilding his life in Paris, received respectable reviews when it played in the second week, but very few thought it had a chance of victory.


Audiard, now 63, is a veteran of the Cannes Film Festival. His superior A Prophet won the Grand Prix here in 2010.

The competition for the Palme d'Or was supposed to be a three-horse race between three other horses. László Nemes's Son of Saul, a searing tale of the Holocaust shot in long busy takes on a narrow ratio, had to settle for the Grand Prix. That remains an impressive achievement for a first-time director.

Hou Hsiao-Hsien, a hugely gifted Taiwanese master, was many pundits' favourite for his staggeringly gorgeous The Assassin.

Hou ended up with a best director prize to add to the Jury Prize he won for The Puppetmaster in 1993.

The other film deemed in with a shout was Todd Haynes's lavish, intellectually rigorous Carol. Rooney Mara, who plays a shop girl romantically attached to the more glamorous Cate Blanchett, shared best actress with (another shocker this) Emanuelle Bercot for Maïwenn's unimpressive Mon Roi.

The Palme d'Or result was among the most surprising since Lars Von Trier's largely disliked Dancer in the Dark beat Wong Kar-wai's beloved In the Mood for Love to the top prize in 2000.

The chatter among journalists was that the Jury, headed by Joel and Ethan Coen, must have been seriously divided and that they were forced to settle on a compromise. More than a few prominent critics admitted they hadn't bothered to catch up with Dheepan.

Other victors at a largely successful festival included the much-loved Vincent Lindon, who took best actor (and a deserved standing ovation) for his turn as security guard in the impressive The Measure of a Man, and the young Mexican Michel Franco, winner of best screenplay for the fine Chronic.

Domestic attention will focus on the deserved success of The Lobster. Produced by Element Pictures with the Irish Film Board, the film takes place in an absurd universe where citizens must, within a certain period, find a mate or be transformed into the animal of their choice. It was largely filmed at the Parknasilla Resort and Spa in Kerry.

“It’s the kind of film that being in it doesn’t mean I know any more about it than any audience member,” Colin Farrell, the lead actor, told us last week.

“I only have my own idea about it all.”

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist