The 2019 competition will remain as one of the very great wines of the Cannes Film Festival, and we must salute the choice of the jury of Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu who decided to reward a film as daring as it is (potentially) popular.
The writing of Telerama had predicted the victory of Pain and Glory, but hoped for that of Parasite. We therefore salute the choice of the jury chaired by Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu who unanimously decided to award the Palme d’Or of the 72nd Cannes film festival to the brilliant social thriller of Bong Joon-ho rather than to the declaration of love in the 7th art by Pedro Almodovar.
Parasite, which hits theaters on June 5, ticks all the boxes for the ideal Palme d’Or. It is a great daring author’s film, with a virulent political argument on the class struggle in South Korea and a virtuoso staging, both in the symbolic use of the sets and in the direction of the actors. It is also a great (potentially) popular film, which takes the viewer through all the emotions of cinema, from laughter to tears to fear. Like the greatest successes of Henri-Georges Clouzot, moreover, to whom Bong Joon-ho paid tribute (at the same time as to Claude Chabrol, whose keen eye on the bourgeoisie he shares) by receiving his Palm.
For Pedro Almodovar, on the other hand, the Cannes curse continues. The Spanish filmmaker magnifies his actors so much that they are the ones who win the rewards in his place. The actresses of Volver had had this honor in 2006, it was, this Saturday, May 25, the turn of Antonio Banderas. Who had the elegance and the rightness to dedicate to his “Mentor” his award for interpretation totally deserved for his incarnation of a director … who looks a lot like Almodovar himself. A prize all the more important as the competition was fierce this year against, among others, Roschdy Zem as compassionate commissioner in Roubaix, a light, by Arnaud Desplechin or Pierfrancisco Favino as a repented mafia in The traitor, by Marco Bellocchio.
The youth bonus
For most of the other prizes, Iñarritu and his jurors clearly wanted to give a bounty to the youth. Franco-Senegalese Mati Diop obtains the prestigious Grand Prix for her first fiction film, the ambitious (but unequal) Atlantic, shot in the streets of Dakar. And Ladj Ly, the “microbe” of Montfermeil, won the Jury Prize for his both realistic and spectacular evocation of a police blunder in Wretched. The self-taught director recalled in a vibrant speech that if his film speaks of the sometimes violent relations between the different communities, “The only common enemy between the inhabitants and the police is poverty”. Before dedicating its price “To all the wretches of France and elsewhere”… Ladj Ly shares his reward with another very political film, the daring Bacurau, by Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles. The directors of this astonishing contemporary western evoked, with barely covered words, the offensive of the president of the extreme-right Jair Bolsonaro against the culture in Brazil before sending a message of alert to the public of the Festival: ” We need your support “.
Tribute to youth always with the prize awarded, surprisingly, to English actress Emily Beecham for her somewhat monotonous interpretation of a geneticist who creates flowers in the sophisticated (but too icy) Little joe, by Jessica Haussner. And, above all, with the screenplay prize awarded to Céline Sciamma for Portrait of the girl on fire. The story and the dialogues of this overwhelming love story between two women in the 18th century are, in fact, a model of writing. But the most beautiful of the five French films in competition had the qualities to appear higher on the prize list.
A very grand cru
We can also be surprised at the price of the staging won by Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne. The “brothers” thus complete their collection of Cannes charms – all they need is the Jury Prize! The achievement of Young Ahmed is, as with all films by Belgian filmmakers, relentlessly rigorous. But looked pale next to the stylistic daring (a brilliant idea per shot) of the Chinese Diao Yinan in his breathtaking thriller The wild goose lake, one of the great forgotten figures.
In defense of the jury, it should be noted that the 2019 competition was a very grand cru – the best for ten years, when The White Ribbon by Michael Haneke had triumphed at the expense of masterpieces such as Bright Star by Jane Campion and Vincere by Marco Bellocchio. The difficulty in deciding so many great films may explain the creation this year of an eighth prize, a “Special Mention” awarded to Elia Suleiman for It Must Be Heaven, screened on the last day of the festival. We are delighted for the Palestinian filmmaker, absent from the screens for ten years, but again, this magnificent comedy of exile deserved better.
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Cannes 2019: “Parasite” is really the ideal Palme d’Or