If it wasn’t for the fact I wouldn’t be doing my job properly, I could probably write all of my updates for the next 10 days right now.
Unless you are lucky enough to obtain an invitation to one of the mythical parties, things tend to go the same way each day. You wake up at the crack of dawn to get to the Grand Lumierre theatre for the early screening of whatever the In Competition movie is that day.
By around 8am you realise it was entirely pointless trying to get there early and get a reasonable seat, because about 1,000 other people have been there since probably the night before. It’s 8.15am and you are sat about a quarter of a mile, wondering whether or not you will be able to read the subtitles.
You’ve already collected 3 stars on every level of Angry Birds the previous day and the need for a coffee kicks in at 8.28am, while you need the loo by 8.29am. You will get neither of these delights until you have sat through two hours of what is most likely going to be an awful movie, which is probably being seen by more people in Cannes than will ever see it the World over.
But by 8.30am, the curtain is drawn back and you realise that things are actually fucking brilliant because… you are in Cannes.
Arriving only 24 hours after Moonrise Kingdom had opened the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, I didn’t expect to have missed much. But almost as soon as I had set foot inside the Palais late on Thursday evening, there was significant buzz about the day’s In Competition film, Rust & Bone. Thankfully, In Competition movies are screened again the following day in the much smaller, but significantly more comfortable, Salle du Soixantieme theatre.
As a bit of a virgin to the day after screenings, I queued just like any other polite British gent would. I think pointing out my nationality is of significant importance, as the French have no concept of a “queue”. I joined the back of the line and got wet (yes, the weather is awful and I packed 5 pairs of shorts and 1 pair of trousers). It was 10 minutes before it became apparent that press could go straight in. Those in front of me were in fact holders of Marche du Film badges (producers, distributors, PR folks and whatnot). But a bit of rain never hurt anyone and, mercifully, the movie was worth the wait.
De rouille et d’os, to give it its proper title, follows Ali (Matthias Schoenaert) who is left in charge of his young son, despite living a rough life, scavenging for food, in northern France. He moves south, to Cannes (yes, how fitting), to live with his sister where he develops a friendship with Stephanie (Marion Cotillard), a trainer of killer whales, while working as a nightclub bouncer. During a performance she suffers loses both her legs and their bond grows stronger.
It would be easy to draw comparisons between Matthias Schoenaert’s character with that of Ryan Gosling in last year’s Drive. Therefore I will. Not only is the rugged Frenchman the spitting image of his American counterpart, Ali also carries a similar withdrawn and violent manner.
Co-star Marion Cotillard, who incidentally but note-worthily was naked for at least 10% of her screen time, preferred to liken Schoenaert to Leonardo Di Caprio and Daniel Day-Lewis during the post-screening press conference. While most wouldn’t put him on that kind of pedestal just yet, both he and Cotillard are early front runners for Best Actor and Actress awards at this year’s festival. And, much like Jean Dujardin 12 months ago with The Artist, Rust & Bone is sure to put Schoenaerts’ name on everyone’s lips.
Everyone that can pronounce it, that is.
Prior to Rust & Bone I caught Matteo Garrone’s Reality. It was a portrait of a man who becomes deluded as he pursues the chance to appear on reality TV show Big Brother. It was essentially the movie equivalent of the second episode of Charlie Brooker’s Channel 4 mini-series Black Mirror, though it was not nearly as effective and, at almost two hours, was at least 30 minutes too long. While not entirely unlikeable in either concept or delivery, I felt somewhat withdrawn from the characters, which is a fundamental issue when dealing with a story of this nature. It was a complete contrast to Rust & Bone where the screenplay and performances truly dragged you in.
Tomorrow is what I hope to be the highlight of the week, with Tom Hardy starring in John Hillcoat’s Lawless, while later today is a movie I haven’t even bothered reading up on, Beasts of the Southern Wild. It’s generally safer that way, otherwise you’d end up seeing barely anything.
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