Away from the hustle and bustle of the festival, there is a parallel world in Cannes during the day that journalists rarely find themselves in. It’s the receptions in the numerous beach bars on the Croisette where the production companies celebrate their premieres, sometimes independent of the reviews – which is why the press is rarely invited to these occasions.
These appetizer tasting events are not parties in the traditional sense, but if you want to savor the Cannes feeling, you should at least once – for example at the premiere party of the Korean action film “The Hunt” with “Squid Game” star Lee Jung-jae – with a glass of rosé stand in the sea. (The legendary Cannes parties are known to be held in hotel rooms, but that’s an omertà in the industry.)
South Korean cinema is slowly reconnecting with its pre-pandemic boom, sparked by the success of Palm-winning Parasite. With two films alone in competition, including Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s ‘Broker’ (his second international production), the fourth-largest cinema industry is back in full swing this year.
The German film industry can only dream of this, even if the logos of the usual funding agencies occasionally roll across the screen. Anyone who had hoped that the unbridled love poured out here in 2016 over Maren Ade’s “Toni Erdmann” would bear fruit has been repeatedly disappointed in recent years.
This time, at least, the Berlin director Emily Atef is represented on the Croisette in the Un Certain Regard series – the small competition, so to speak. And her film “More than ever” (“Plus que jamais”), after the Romy Schneider biopic “3 Days in Quiberon”, is another proof of her Francophile sensibility.
In Cannes, where the Berlin School also celebrated its greatest success, this naturally hits a nerve, especially since Gaspard Ulliel, who died in an accident in January, can be seen in his last role. Around the festival these days, the most versatile (and handsome) French actor of his generation is remembered. In “More than ever” he once again shows all his skills alongside Vicky Krieps.
Krieps plays the architect Hélène, who suffers from an incurable lung disease. Her husband Mathieu (Ulliel) and her friends seem to be less able to deal with this diagnosis than the patient herself, who is building an emotional wall around herself.
The powerlessness in the face of a much too short life, the anger at herself for inflicting this pain on the person she loves more than anything, and the fear of excruciating long-term treatment without a happy ending trigger a withdrawal reflex in Hélène.
On the Internet she meets an elderly man (Bjørn Floberg) who blogs about his own medical history from his cabin by a fjord; the two begin a correspondence. When Hélène gets a place on the waiting list for a lung transplant, she asks Mathieu for time to think it over – and travels to Norway.
Krieps plays the role of Hélène, who has often been seen in the cinema, with the transparency so characteristic of her acting, which leaves a lot of room for interpretation. It is precisely this withdrawal that makes Mathieu despair. In this way, “More than Ever” avoids the usual sentimentalism of the medical drama and opens up (through Hélène) his perception: for nature and the mountains, which could also easily have ended up as a cliché. Instead, the emancipation story of a young woman develops who wants to decide about her own body until she dies. Emily Atef does nothing more than give Krieps complete freedom. And that is to her credit.
In 2021, Kirill Serebrennikov had to stay away from the Cannes premiere of his hallucinatory historical drama “Petrov’s Flu” due to house arrest. This year the Russian director and dissident, of whom there just can’t be enough, is back in person. In this noticeable relief, even his film “Tchaikovsky’s Wife” has receded into the background: an interesting, but also lengthy attempt at an alternative to the genius cult surrounding the state artist.
Antonina Miliukova (Alyona Mikhailova) plays the gay composer’s official wife, who fights – more obsessively than for love – for her place in the great artist biography. Serebrennikov’s dismantling is well dosed and always borders on melodrama. If you expected a political statement, you have to read the coffee grounds. At the moment it’s time to celebrate his return to world cinema.