There was a time in the early 1990s when the Cannes Film Festival meant a lot of fun. Those were not the days of web editions which meant journalists had a lot of time to file their stories. And, this luxurious leisure gave them a chance to have a thrilling time after sundown. There were dozens of parties every night – literally. With the pandemic and the coming of web papers, it kind of became all work and no play.
But this year, some of the old world glamour seemed to have returned. There was sense of joy, a kind of relief after the passing away of the pandemic. Vanity Fair, Warner Bros. Discovery and amfAR held gala parties. Studios spent a fortune to get Asteroid City and Killers of the Flower Moon to France.
And there was no dearth of star power this time at Cannes. Leonardo DiCaprio, Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman all shining on the red carpet.. And there were many more. Actors like Johnny Depp must have heaved a sigh of relief when his movie, Jeanne du Barry, set the 12-day Festival rolling. It was in many ways a comeback after his messy legal battles. Having scored a victory in favour of his defamation suit against former wife Amber Heard, Depp must be hoping that Jeanne du Barry would push him back into the limelight. His film got a seven-minute standing ovation. I am sure Depp must have be rapturously happy.
But reactions were mixed. One American distributor told Variety, “I’m not touching anything with Johnny Depp in it”. There you go.
It was also a great revival for Jonathan Glazer, who returned to Cannes after 10 years with The Zone of Interest, and and what a work it was. About a family living in the shadows of a Nazi concentration camp in Auswitz!. It seemed incredible that they could have a great time drinking, dining and going on picnics when the cries of Jews being gassed was deafening. Could man do this to man?
Todd Haynes’ sexy drama, May December shone, and was picked up by Netflix for a fancy sum — $ 11 Million. Martin Scorsese also scored with Killers of the Flower Moon.
But as some felt, the Netflix deal was a rare one. Brent Lang and Matt Donnelly of Variety, in their piece about Cannes this year, wrote “Indeed, movement around sales has been slower than a French waiter. Projects like Dave Bautista’s “Cooler,” Sylvester Stallone’s “Cliffhanger” reboot and Nicolas Cage’s “Lords of War” are still waiting for buyers.
And Harrison Ford has hung up his boots, the globe-trotting archaeologist who made him an icon. Variety commented that “based on the tepid reaction to Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, he should have hung up the fedora long ago. The reviews were lukewarm, and while the movie received a standing ovation, it felt more obligatory than enthusiastic”.
The moot point, will all this sunshine we saw at Cannes this year last?
(DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this article are of the author alone and not the organisation.)