Cannes Diary 6 – Early Palme D’Or Buzz, Barbara And Elvis Presley

Posted on June 4, 2017


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And the Palme D’Or goes to… At least on Sunday evening, the general consensus seemed to favour Michael Haneke’s Happy End. The other films in competition were certainly various shades of interesting (I especially liked what Bong Joon Ho’s Okja did in a “mainstream” space), but this one hit hard. It was cryptic, funny. At times, it made you go what-the-fuck-is-happening? And then, slowly, it revealed itself. It wasn’t just a movie. It was… cinema. For the first time in the festival, there was the sense of experiencing an art form and not just a great story being told well.

Imagine James Joyce taking a crack at Gone with the Wind, and you have an idea of Happy End. The rich plantation-owning family is replaced by a rich industrial clan in Calais. The slaves find an equivalent in Moroccans and other refugees employed as servants (treated kindly, like in the earlier film). And there is a similar sense of soapy melodrama. The pater familias (Jean-Louis Trintignant) is losing his marbles. Anne (Isabelle Huppert) is the Scarlett O’Hara figure, trying to hold it all together while pursuing love. There’s even a Melanie equivalent, with a child. I don’t want to make too much of this comparison — after all, we are talking about sex chats (“I want you to piss on my face, smiling; I love your smile”) and a far more political setting. It’s just that the plot suggests a certain kind of sprawling inter-generational saga.

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Posted in: Cinema: Foreign