Towards a bright future***
by Nanni Moretti
Italian film, 1 h 36
The Passion of Dodin Bouffant*
by Tran Anh Hung
French film, 2 h 14
Nanni Moretti swapped the Vespa from Personal diary for a scooter, but did not lose his hand to share with us his states of mind as a disillusioned director in the mode of autobiographical fantasy which suits him so well. The lukewarm reception of his previous film, Tre piani, deemed too dark as the advent of platforms and entertainment-king, is probably for something. So Nanni settles his accounts, guns blazing, without sparing himself, and it’s a real treat for the viewer.
In Il Sol dell’avvenire (Towards a bright future)presented in competition on Wednesday May 24, Giovanni, his real first name and his cinema double, is a director who is trying to make a film about the arrival of a Hungarian circus in a district of Rome in 1956, at the time of the Budapest events.
The repression which is falling on this country provokes a case of conscience for Gabriele, the local secretary of the PCI who is none other than the editor-in-chief of Unita, the major communist daily. But who is still interested in politics these days?, seems to wonder the film team at the time of preparation.
A bitterness tinged with melancholy
The shooting turns out to be a real nightmare. Its main actress wears mules (he hates that) and wants to transform the scenario at all costs to make it a love story à la Cassavetes, the French producer (Mathieu Amalric) is a crook who ends up behind bars, and Paola ( Margherita Buy), his wife and producer of forty years, is about to leave him.
So Giovanni is forced to look things in the face and what he sees does not please him very much. Two absolutely hilarious scenes, an appointment at Netflix with its Anglo-Saxon jargon, and a lesson in cinematographic ethics to a young director shooting an action film, speak volumes about the bitterness of the director vis- to the development of his profession.
It could be sterile or sentimental, if it were not tempered at the time of the balance sheets by a form of melancholy. After all, Nanni Moretti is an experienced filmmaker and he has mastered the art of pirouette perfectly. With a good dose of self-mockery, he shows us a Giovanni who laments the passage of time – “ I have to hurry “, he keeps repeating, listing all the film projects he would like to do, multiplying the nods to his own filmography – and feels regret vis-à-vis a family to whom he probably wasn’t paying enough attention.
Shouldn’t he have made a love film with Italian songs rather than give in to his eternal obsessions?, he wonders. Since everyone has had enough of his pessimism, the filmmaker offers us a finale full of promises in the form of a snub.
The return of Tran Anh Hung thirty years after “The Smell of Green Papaya”
We had not seen the French director of Vietnamese origin Tran Anh Hung in Cannes since The smell of green papaya (1993) with which he won the Camera d’or (first film award).
Curious journey than that of this scenario writer who, after his very respectable Vietnamese trilogy, made two films in Japan before returning to French productions in costumes, whose ultra-polished esthetics masks the absence of consistency badly. After eternity (2016), here he is with this Passion of Dodin Bouffant of which we do not really understand what it comes to do in the competition.
Adapted from a famous novel of gastronomic literature from 1924, brought up to date recently by a comic strip, the film celebrates the marriage of love and gastronomy through the close relationship at the end of the 19th century between a fine gourmet, Dodin, and his cook, Eugénie. Despite a nice introduction – the making of a meal in a sequence shot – Benoît Magimel and Juliette Binoche do not manage to give life to this film without real dialogues (except around the cooking recipes) and very pictorial beauty. . It’s very pretty to look at but unfortunately that’s all it is.
Cannes, day 10
A third French film and a curiosity by the German Wim Wenders are expected today in competition.
Last summer, by Catherine Breillat. After a long eclipse, the writer and director victim of a health accident and a scam that she told and staged in Abuse of weakness (2013) features his new film about a lawyer (Léa Drucker) who begins an affair with her 17-year-old stepson.
Perfect Daysby Wim Wenders. The German director’s film, which also presents a documentary on the artist Anselm Kiefer, was shot in Japan and tells the simple daily life of a public toilet employee in Tokyo who thrives in contact with beauty.