Cannes 2021: Every day, the Rédac ‘d’AlloCiné summarizes the films seen during the 74th Cannes Film Festival. Today, spotlight on “De son vivant” with Catherine Deneuve, the new Nanni Moretti and Eva Husson or a political documentary.
Sixth day of this 74th Cannes Film Festival. The sun is still strong, films continue to flourish on the screens of the Croisette. No notable scandal today, but a major event: the presentation of Emmanuelle Bercot’s new film, De son vivant, with Benoît Magimel and Catherine Deneuve. An unusual project for the great French actress since production was interrupted in the middle of filming following her cerebrovascular accident (stroke). In this assumed melodrama, she plays a mother who stands at the bedside of her terminally ill son.
In the other discoveries of the day, there is the return of the Italian Nanni Moretti, winner of the Palme d’Or in 2001 for The son’s room. A regular at the Festival, he walks the red carpet for Tre Piani, which is interested in the disrupted lives of the inhabitants of a building in Rome. After the complicated reception of his Girls of the Sun, presented here in 2018, the French Eva Husson presents Mothering Sunday, her first Anglo-Saxon feature film with Colin Firth, Olivia Colman and Josh “Prince Charles” O’Connor.
Also on the program, two films from the Directors’ Fortnight: the romance Ali & Ava by Clio Barnard inspired by the cinema of Rainer Werner Fassbinder; the political documentary Retour à Reims (Fragments) narrated by Adèle Haenel or the Norwegian horror shock The Innocents directed by Eskil Vogt.
During her lifetime by Emmanuelle Bercot (Out of competition)
Director’s second collaboration Emmanuelle Bercot with his actress Catherine Deneuve, In his lifetime traces the journey over a year of a man (masterful Benoît Magimel) condemned to cancer and forced in spite of himself to tame him and apprehend his death. At her side, her mother who must accept the unacceptable and therefore the suffering is intolerable, her oncologist who has fully understood what life becomes when she approaches death, and a more loving nurse (Cécile de France) than expected.
Last gestures, putting her life in order, accepting the separation, her deteriorating body, extreme doubts, despair, astonishment: the director titillates our deepest anxieties, accepting without embarrassment her taste for melodrama. Melodrama counterbalanced by light scenes, breaths, music or dances that do good where the rest has hurt. Difficult to hold back tears all the same …
Mothering Sunday (Cannes Premiere)
After Bang Gang and Girls of the Sun, Eva husson comes back with a radically different proposition: Mothering sunday, a fairly refined and delicate period film that follows the journey of Jane, a young good orphan in a small town in England still scarred by the First War. Through a key moment in her life, involving her lover Paul, son of aristocrats, the film tells how she managed to extricate herself from her social condition to fulfill herself as a writer.
Supported by a polished production and a very refined aesthetic, this romantic drama benefits from disturbing music and extremely careful editing. The actors Odessa Young and Josh o’connor, supported among others by Olivia colman and Colin firth, are sublimated in this story thanks to very beautiful sequences that Eva Husson shapes to deal with darker subjects such as loss, mourning, death and regrets.
Ali & Ava by Clio Barnard (Directors’ Fortnight)
8 years after The Selfish Giant, presented at the Directors’ Fortnight, Clio Barnard come back with Ali & Ava, romance very loosely inspired by Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Everyone Else Calls Ali. This film is anchored in the North of England, precisely in Yorkshire, in Bradford, a city marked by race riots in the early 2000s. The filmmaker films with great grace this place, where these two souls in pain will learn to know each other. Ali & Ava is a very bright film, which leaves plenty of room for music, a means which will allow this man and this woman to learn to discover and love each other.
The Innocents by Eskil Vogt (Un Certain Regard)
Attention shock! Coming from Norway, like Julie (in 12 chapters), whose Eskil Vogt is the co-writer. Here he signs his second feature film as a director, and did not fail to take the spectators’ breath away with this supernatural drama in which children’s games turn to horror. As if Chronicle met Joachim Trier’s Thelma (already co-written by Vogt), with less found footage and younger, creepier kids.
From the first seconds of The Innocents, the director installs a dull anguish in the HLM where all the action takes place, and he does not loosen his grip before the last seconds. Focused on the notion of gaze, between that of the main characters and what he chooses to show the spectators, Eskil Vogt intrigues, hypnotizes and shocks by making no concessions. We come out of the session shaken, but happy to have seen such a successful film.
Return to Reims by Jean-Gabriel Périot (Directors’ Fortnight)
For his fourth feature film, Jean-Gabriel Périot adapts Didier’s novel Eribon, Back to Reims. This is not a classic film adaptation, but a reconstruction of the author’s early years, from the working class, thanks to archive images from all walks of life, extracted from films as well as old reports. The film, a real gold mine for these rare extracts from a France of the past, is a cry of anger to honor the “invisible“of this country. Above all, it manages to create a powerful and alarming link with our present. In the narration, we find the voice of a generation already engaged: Adele Haenel.
Tre Piani by Nanni Moretti (Competition)
Twenty years after the Palme received by La Chambre du fils, Nanni Moretti is in contention for the double. He also wisely let a year pass to be part of the 2021 selection, instead of settling for a label or a passage through Venice. So here he is again with Tre Piani, adaptation of the Israeli novel “Three floors” whose action he transposes from Tel Aviv to Rome. But it is still about three families living in the same building and upset by a series of events, in a story spanning ten years.
Parallel stories that almost never intersect and allow the filmmaker to evoke several themes, including parenthood and love. But the segments turn out to be of unequal interest. If the one led by Nanni Moretti and Margherita Buy wins support and offers us the most moving scenes, this is not the case for the others. So much so that the alternation harms the rhythm, while the simplicity of the story becomes one of its faults. Small disappointment that this pure choral melodrama therefore, in which the know-how of the director is expressed only intermittently.