By receiving, on May 28, the palme d’or from the jury chaired by Vincent Lindon for “Without filter”, his sixth film, the Swede Ruben Östlund entered, at only 48 years old, the club of filmmakers “with two palms” . alongside the Dardenne brothers, Francis Ford Coppola, Ken Loach, Emir Kusturica and Shohei Imamura.
Better: he obtained the supreme reward for two films in a row (after “The Square”, in 2017) like Bille August and Michael Haneke.
In “Without Filter”, Ruben Östlund vomits up our time in three acts: the shouting match between a couple of influential young models over the payment of the bill; a luxury cruise where, joined by a few stupid billionaires, our two fashion plates are submerged in bile – storms and seasickness invite themselves to dinner – and shit overflowing from the toilets; their survival on a desert island among the survivors whose balance of power is reversed, the Asian maid taking over the rich, whom she in turn exploits. Consider “Titanic” and “Koh-Lanta” as indicative of capitalist indecency and class cataclysm.
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An incisive observer of contemporary cowardice and hypocrisy, adept at long sketches where laughter competes with embarrassment, Ruben Östlund has a certain talent for breaking the locks of propriety and social norms… And in an increasingly superficial and obliging to send them back to us.
Love it or hate it. “Without filter”, like Östlund’s cinema more generally, does not call for half measures. It is the mark of the provocateurs whose time will tell if they are great artists or simple stockbrokers of the time. According to the filmmaker, “Without Filter” is a film “Marxist”. “Le Figaro” and “Le Parisien” loved it, “Liberation”, “Le Monde” and “L’Obs” hated it. Find the error.
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Originally from the small island of Styrsö in southern Sweden, Östlund was pushed by his mother, a teacher and landscape designer, to develop his artistic flair. He took his first steps by filming his skier friends, which earned him his debut as a director specializing in extreme sports, then to integrate the Gothenburg film school, from which he graduated in 2001. He was marked there by ” Gummo”, by Harmony Korine, and “Unknown Code”, by Michael Haneke, two films artistic and disturbing.
“Play”, his second feature film, about white children extorted by black comrades without their parents reacting for fear of being accused of being racist, is taken from a news item. The spat of the couple of models in “Without filter” was inspired by a shouting match between his wife and him in the elevator of the Martinez hotel, in the middle of the Cannes Film Festival.
“”The Square” is about the dictatorship of political correctness”, enthused the president of the Cannes jury, Pedro Almodóvar, when he awarded him the palme d’or five years ago. “All my films are about people trying to save face”analysis for his part Ruben Östlund.
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Masculine cowardice is another of his hobbies. In “Snow Therapy” (2014), which revealed him internationally, a man, on a winter sports holiday, slips away cowardly when an avalanche threatens to engulf his family. A reaction that has a devastating snowball effect. Adapted for the stage, “Snow Therapy” was performed at the Théâtre du Rond-Point, in Paris, with Julie Depardieu and Alex Lutz.
In 2014, Ruben Östlund and his producer Kalle Boman created an installation in front of the Vandalorum museum in Värnamo: a square drawn on the ground designated as “a sanctuary where trust and altruism reign, in which we all have the same rights and the same duties”. After being vandalized by drunks, the site has become a popular place for beggars, protesters and couples in love who meet there. It serves as the starting point for “The Square”, a satire of the world of contemporary art.
Courted by Hollywood after his nomination for the Oscar for best foreign film for “The Square”, Ruben Östlund says he refused all the projects offered to him in order to maintain his artistic freedom. The Americans, who were to participate in the financing of “Without Filter”, would have withdrawn after having read the script, forcing the director to go in search of investment. A year lost, another palm gained.
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who is Ruben Östlund, a “two-handed” and controversial filmmaker?