Cannes Film Festival 2019: Day 6

Cannes Film Festival 2019: Day 6

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by Alexa Dalby

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

La Gomera (Les Siffleurs)

Corneliu Porumboiu’s deadpan, daffy noir has a cop caught in a labyrinthine plot involving women, whistling and a mattress full of money… There’s a lot of fun to be had in the simple eccentricity of the premise, which is pulled back from silliness by the cast’s underplaying and Porumboiu’s natural inclination to tamp proceedings back into drollery. – Variety

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu)

An exquisitely executed love story that’s both formally adventurous and emotionally devastating… The title of writer-director Celine Sciamma’s (Tomboy, Girlhood) latest work, Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu), obviously has multiple meanings.

First and foremost, it refers to an actual portrait that the main protagonist Marianne (Noemie Merlant) paints. But it also denotes the film itself as a cinematic study of the lady in question, Heloise (Adele Haenel from BPM, and the supreme object of desire in Sciamma’s first feature Water Lilies), whose flowing gown literally catches fire at one point, as if the love and desire she feels inside for Marianne has made her brocade frock spontaneously combust…

To say much more about the plot apart from the fact that the two women fall in love by degrees would spoil the experience of watching how Sciamma pulls back each emotional veil. This happens with immense delicacy, via a series of walks, conversations and long-held looks between the women in which the painting as it develops practically becomes another character in the story, part of an emotional threesome. – Variety

Fittingly for a film about a painter, the compositions are glorious: the use of a rich and diverse colour palette; the perfectly framed mise en scene and the feel for texture and material as well as the softness of skin and the body… These are women don’t just love each other, the love the idea of living a full life, or at least a fuller one. They are reclaiming mythology and art for themselves as well as reclaiming the gaze… Not since Jane Campion’s The Piano has a costume drama presented such a gorgeous view of love from a woman’s point of view, as in Portrait of a Lady on Fire. – Cinevue

A Hidden Life

Terrence Malick’s heartfelt and reverently high-minded new movie is inspired by a life that is little-known — hidden, perhaps. Franz Jägerstetter was an Austrian conscientious objector during the second world war who made a personal stand for his anti-Nazi beliefs by refusing to take the Hitler oath as a Wehrmacht conscript and in 1943 was duly executed… The style that Malick has found for this subject is very much the same as ever: an overpowering sense of being ecstatically, epiphanically in the present moment, an ambient feeling of exaltation created by a montage of camera shots swooning, swooping and looming around the characters who appear often to be lost in thought, to an orchestral or organ accompaniment, and a murmured voiceover narration of the characters’ intimate but distinctly abstract feelings and memories. – Guardian

The Lighthouse

The film… is a mad torrent of weirdness, with Pattinson, mustachioed and bulge-eyed, at the centre. – Vanity Fair

For his followup to The Witch, Robert Eggers launches a seriously salty story of two men trapped in a turret: think Steptoe and Son at sea and in hell… Robert Eggers’s gripping nightmare shows two lighthouse-keepers in 19th-century Maine going melancholy mad together: a toxic marriage, a dance of death. It is explosively scary and captivatingly beautiful in cinematographer Jarin Blaschke’s fierce monochrome, like a daguerreotype of fear. And the performances from Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson have a sledgehammer punch – Pattinson, in particular, just gets better and better… The Lighthouse keeps hold of us with the sheer muscular intelligence and even theatricality of the performances and the first-class writing. – Guardian

La Gomera, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, A Hidden Life and The Lighthoust premiered at the Cannes Film Festival 2019.

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