At the end of the second week, the inner pressure drop comes over the critic like a salutary shock. A quick check in the festival app: 37 films are listed there, not all of them made it through to the end. Some blur in an inspirational haze, too – not the worst cinematic experience.
The lists of favorites for the Palms, which will be awarded this Saturday, have been drawn up, but as the programming would have it, Cannes has saved two of the most beautiful films for last. In fact, both fit perfectly into the laid-back vibe that no big films intrude on anymore. Kelly Reichardt’s laconic artist comedy “Showing Up” and French director Léonor Serraille’s family story “Mother and Son” do well to watch their stories unfold (the former over the course of a few days, the latter over twenty years). Milieu drawings with an unerring gaze.
In her third film with Reichardt, Michelle Williams plays a sculptor who is preparing for a solo exhibition in her studio in an artists’ colony where a lot of pottery, weaving and dyeing takes place. Her ailing brother, an injured pigeon and her selfish neighbor ensure minimal complications, but like all of Reichardt’s films, “Showing Up” also heads for an anticlimactic finale. The director, who has once again shot in her adopted home of Portland, is so sure of her characters and images that she can do without narrative stunts. Your film is imbued with a love of manual work.
Serraille’s “Mother and Son” (originally “Un petit Frère”) is the third film in the competition with a brother theme, following Arnaud Desplechin’s “Brother and Sister” and “Leila’s Brothers” by Iranian Saeed Roustaee. And it wouldn’t be a surprise if Serraille and Roustaee ended up with an award. Many films this year revolve around families (notably the Dardennes’ migration drama Tori et Lokita and Hirokazu Kore-eda’s adoption road movie Broker) but only Mother and Son and Leila’s Brothers succeed , without false sentimentality and dramaturgically convincing to describe family bonding forces.
In Serraille, the adult Ernest, who emigrated from the Ivory Coast to Paris with his mother Rose and his older brother Jean in 1989, acts as the narrator. Rose (Annabelle Lengronne) tries to give her children a better life, but the performance principle she uses to raise the boys and their constantly thwarted urge for freedom drive the three of them apart over the years. Mother and Son is a sober, sensitive look at the immigrant generation in the long Jacques Chirac era that remains a blind spot in French cinema.
The almost three-hour family drama “Leila’s Brothers”, on the other hand, represents a more classical position in Iranian cinema, which is peppered with auteur filmmakers. Roustaee describes his country’s patriarchal society at a moment of generational change from the perspective of his title character.
With a jury that doesn’t make an overly cinephile impression from the outside, this “Bildungsroman” could certainly meet with sympathy. Romania also has a strong representative in Cristian Mungius’ “RMN.” Hollywood has James Gray’s “Armageddon Time” about a Jewish family in New York in the late 1970s. An outlier like last year’s Palms-winner Titane isn’t up for grabs, even in David Cronenberg’s Crimes of the Future. At best, Ruben Östlund’s capitalism-clad “Triangle of Sadness” could provide a touch of anarchy.