Notes from the Croisette - Cannes 2016

Curzon's own Kate Gerova returned from the South of France this week, having foregone the casinos, the yachts and the glass-fronted boutiques in favour of a series of darkened rooms, watching and considering the films that will be lighting up cinemas the world over in the months to come. Here Kate presents her notes from the Croisette.  

It's hard to tell from this image, but everyone is wearing high-heels. Promise.

It's hard to tell from this image, but everyone is wearing high-heels. Promise.

Cannes, like Christmas, is over for another year. Did we get the presents we asked for? Well if, like me, you are monitoring all the chatter around female filmmakers then there was certainly enough here to watch.

Andrea Arnold's American Honey was my highlight. If you fell in love with Wasp all those years ago then you should love this. It has a ferocious performance from Riley Keough as the tough-assed leader to a group of itinerant teenage workers, and a truly smokin' chemistry between its two leads, Shia LaBeouf (giving his best performance since Holes) and newcomer Sasha Lane. Nobody does desire on the big screen like Arnold and the sheer potent force of the performances and soundtrack had me mesmerised.

American Honey  (dir. Andrea Arnold)

American Honey (dir. Andrea Arnold)

The curiously named Toni Erdmann was indeed just that. Director Maren Ade was the favourite from day three and her bold and unique film had normally jaded journo's whooping with joy - let's hope that holds by the time this gem is released in the UK.

Whilst reviews for Nicole Garcia's From the Land of the Moon have been soft, to say the least, the combined magic of lead Marion Cotillard and creative distributor StudioCanal UK will ensure this connects with audiences. And for a true crowd pleaser, look no further than The Handmaiden. This fable, directed by Korean auteur Park Chan-wook, is an adaptation of Sarah Waters' scintillating novel, Fingersmith. Transposed to 1930s Japan and boasting two most beautiful female leads, it's a sumptuous sight and a suitably, twistily Hitchcockian tale.

The Handmaiden  (dir.  Park Chan-wook)

The Handmaiden (dir. Park Chan-wook)

There were some duds under the tree, as must be expected, the kind of present that you'll 'pass on'. I didn't fall for the Dadaesque Ma Loute (Slack Bay) from Bruno Dumont, partly because I don't actually know what that means, but mostly because the comedy left me cold. Similarly I'll never forgive Alain Guiraudie (director of Staying Vertical) for making me suffer the sight of so much genitalia, and on such a large screen, a visual that is now seared onto my retinas. 

There will be films that might not get picked up, but are nonetheless worth looking out for at a festival near you, including Cristi Piui's terrific Sieranevada. Like The Death of Mister Lazarescu before it, Piui's latest is mostly played out in an apartment where a family gather to honour the deceased patriarch, the dynamics, hostilities and the mixture of young and old causing modern tensions depicted with precision of detail and humour and honesty. Finally, notably, The Transfiguration is a quiet American indie movie about a young vampire, but one with an ambiguous twist that leaves it to linger in the mind.

Sure as Christmas comes round once a year, we'll be back here 12 months from now, eager to see what the world's filmmakers have wrapped up for us.