The final roundup for the Cannes Film Festival takes a look at several more of the films that caught my interest over the past week and a half, although the truth is that most of the movies this year appeared to be disappointing, leaving the later, upcoming fall festivals, like Venice, Telluride and Toronto to debut the more anticipated films this year.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2- Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett. Dir. Dean DuBlois
Happily, HTTYD2 debuted to highly positive reviews at Cannes, indicating that the sequel is well on its way to becoming well received here in the U.S. when it opens on June 13th. Probably an early frontrunner for Best Animated Feature, seeing how the first one was nominated and likely would have won had it not been for Toy Story 3 that same year.
"Going beyond the pat eco-conscious message that every kids' film has to have, 'HTTYD2' touches on how complex the emotional bond between a person and an animal can be." (Hollywood Reporter)
"This DreamWorks Animation sequel advances the story without sacrificing the integrity that defined its most atypical toon." (Variety)
"When the film flies, it soars." (Daily Telegraph)
THE HOMESMAN- Tommy Lee Jones, Hilary Swank. Dir. Tommy Lee Jones
Tommy Lee Jones's feminist western and second directorial feature received some of the mixed reviews that characterized so many films out of Cannes this year. The wildly mixed-negative reaction to it probably means it's a non-starter in terms of awards consideration and its uneven and at times surreal tone makes it sound like one of the odder entries of the festival.
"It doesn't help that Swank never finds a way into this highly unappealing character, or that Jones (Mostly phoning in the pitiable surliness) avoids delving very deeply into the story's proto-feminist undercurrents." (Time Out New York)
"Unlike other actor-directors, Jones never seems to indulge excess on the part of his cast. Though the characters are strong, the performances are understated." (Variety)
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY- Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy. Dir. Ned Benson
First time writer-director Ned Benson's relationship drama has been cut into three versions of the same film. Two versions of this debuted back at Toronto to warm reviews, and this new one received a measured positive response as well, more for the performances than the film itself. It's the melodramatic story of a marriage told from two different perspectives- Her and Him were the titles of the two separate films, one from Chastain's point of view and the other from McAvoy's. This combined cut is called Them and will be the one released on September 26th in the U.S. Harvey Weinstein has this movie on his fall slate and will likely push for awards attention for Jessica Chastain, who's said to have given another great lead performance (cementing her burgeoning reputation as this generation's potential Meryl Streep).
"In all its versions 'The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby' is a film of marked ambition that turns out to know a fair bit about love and loss and the various ways in which we do and don't grow up to become our parents." (Variety)
"The film really belongs to McAvoy and Chastain, who do close to career-best work here...they're never better than when they're sharing the screen." (The Playlist)
TWO DAYS ONE NIGHT- Marion Cotillard. Dir. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
The new film by the Dardennes brothers, famed French filmmakers in their home country of Belgium, premiered to a solid, highly enthusiastic reaction from the festival audience, and boasts a killer central performance from Marion Cotillard (who can't seem to land a leading role in Hollywood, sadly). It's a socioeconomic drama about a woman who has to go door to door to beg her co-workers to vote for her to keep her job over getting a pay raise if she's fired by their company. This one definitely sounds like a standout to me, so I'll be keeping and eye out for it.
"Specialists in unvarnished intimacy, the Dardenne brothers add another clear-eyed contemplation of stark social reality to their impressive output." (Hollywood Reporter)
"A powerful, finely scripted issue movie, made all the more incisive by Marion Cotillard's raw performance as a woman fighting to save her job while suffering depression." (Screen International)