Agnès Varda, who died in 2019, has a permanent place in the heart of Cannes – and since this year also has her own place. The giant container on the site behind the festival palace, so neglected, at the delivery entrance, so to speak, will in future bear the name of the filmmaker, who was awarded the Golden Palm of Honor in 2015. Although the location and ambiance lack the glamor of the Palais – mainly reruns for the general public are shown here – its name does well in the boys’ club of the Lumières, Debussys and Bazins, to whom the main halls are dedicated.
This year, the “Salle Agnès Varda” even has the honor of the extremely rare screenings of the Hollywood blockbusters “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Elvis”. after all, with Julia Ducournau and Catherine Corsini, two names from the previous year made it into the festival trailer of the competition.
Maintaining tradition also means that certain directors have a subscription to the competition. The Romanian Cristian Mungiu has been invited to every film since his palm for “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” in 2007 – and usually won.
“R M. N.”, a term from magnetic resonance imaging, this time already in the title refers to Mungius’ approach of examining the fabric of Romanian society with patient observations. With his fifth film, set in a Transylvanian village on the eastern edge of Europe, which the last drop of EU funding has just reached, he becomes more specific than before in his characterization of socio-economic upheavals: It is about a smoldering conflict between the local population and migrant workers in a bakery.
The returnee Matthias (Marin Grigore) knows both sides of wage labor – and gets caught between the lines because he has an affair with the manager Csilla (Judith State). Mungius measured tone, his unspectacular but precise images threaten to easily go under at festivals, but it is not without reason that his films often leave the most lasting impression.
“Triangle of Sadness”, Ruben Östlund’s next satirical steel bath between feelbad movie and crowd pleaser after the palm tree winner “The Square” is the complete opposite. And the Swedish provocateur just seemed to be waiting for Cannes. It’s hard to imagine a better place to poke fun at the beautiful (fashion!), the rich (a cruise tour on an Aristotle Onassis yacht) and the privileged (the social pecking order on a desert island).
The premise sounds so good that Östlund doesn’t come up with much after that – apart from a loud revue with obvious targets for his ridicule. Social comedies have been socially acceptable since “Parasite” in Cannes, this year the humor, after the zombie opening film, also likes to turn into rough slapstick. Marx’s saying “To each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”, quoted by the drunken ship’s captain (Woody Harrelson), also applies to a listless Östlund.