Editor’s Note: The following capsule reviews are part of our coverage of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. For more information please visit www.festival-cannes.com/en or follow the Cannes Film Festival on Twitter.
Dir. Paolo Sorrentino
Youth is directed by Paolo Sorrentino and marks his second English-language film after This must be the Place. The visually beautiful and thematically sophisticated drama tells the story of Fred (Michael Caine), a retired composer-conductor and Mick (Harvey Keitel), an ambitious director, who spend their vacation in a Swiss spa on the foothills of the Alps while they reflect on their future. The two best friends couldn’t be more different. While Fred is done with his career, Mick is working really hard on his latest screenplay, which he hopes will turn into the best film he has ever made. With their days numbered, Fred and Mick have a different outlook on their lives but still plan on facing their future together.
With its focus on artistic characters (most guests of the spa are artists and/or wealthy celebrities, including supporting actor Paul Dano as a quiet actor, preparing for his new role while observing guests for inspiration) and several musical performances throughout the film, Youth is a celebration of art, especially of cinema and music. It highlights the writing process of Mick’s screenplay, for which he is collaborating with a handful of young, inspired writers. It also reflects on the film industry when Brenda Morel (Jane Fonda), Mick’s muse and leading actress, surprisingly shows up at the Swiss spa, only to announce that she does not believe in his script and drops out of the project. Fred however, is asked to play one of his compositions for the Queen, but refuses to go back to work, even though the Queen is requesting him personally. The strength of Youth is its discussion of art and its audiovisual representation due to a wonderful soundtrack and its well-framed images.
The Measure of a Man (2015)
Dir. Stéphan Brizé
Stéphan Brizé’s competition film The Measure of a Man is a social critique and follows Thierry, (Vincent Lindon) an unemployed 51 year old family man who has been out of his job for 20 months because his former company relocated in order to spend less money on labour. Since then, he had to accept any job the job center offered him, whether or not he was overqualified and underpaid for it.
The camera captures his daily humiliations such as earning harsh judgments on his interview performances at the job center where he is participating in a mock interview with fellow jobseekers, getting lectured by his bank on his savings or underachieving during a Skype job interview. When he is offered a job at a supermarket chain as a security guard, he is put into a morally questionable position as he is monitoring the employees and the costumers and in charge of humiliating them. Since the manager wants to reduce the staff, Thierry has to carefully watch his colleagues and report any suspicious behaviour in order to keep his own job.
The Measure of a Man remains in an observing position throughout the entire film as the camera keeps on following Thierry around, looking over his shoulders while he himself is observing his own environment. Brizés film offers a critical look on society and its economy and reflects on how individuals are just a piece in a brutal system.
Mon Roi (2015)
Mon Roi, Maiwenn’s follow-up to Polisse, is a mediocre film about a destructive on-and-off relationship and its emotional rollercoaster. The film picks up at Tony’s (Emmanuelle Bercot – who directed this year’s opening film Standing Tall) emotional low point after a skiing accident that left her with a seriously injured leg. At the rehabilitation center, Tony has to learn how to walk again and has enough time to reflect on her past and the issues that led to her accident in the first place. Through flashbacks, the audience is introduced to Georgio (Vincent Cassel), a charming and handsome restaurant owner Tony meets at a nightclub. They start going out, fall in love, get married and have a baby.
Although their relationship seemed perfect at first, there have been signs of trouble all along. Tony realises that Georgio has a model ex-girlfriend who is still pining for him , further complicating their marriage, in addition to coming to terms with his commitment issues, financial problems, and a serious drug addiction. Every time Tony confronts her husband with any problem that’s going on in their marriage, Georgio finds a way to blame her and let her suffer. The couple keeps on having these constant struggles, but cannot live without one another. This back and forth of their possessive, unhealthy and destructive relationship is handled well in the beginning but gets repetitive halfway through the film.