“Triangle of Sadness”, “Tchaikovsky’s Wife”, “The Night of 12″… Our recaps of the Cannes Film Festival 2022

Discover our reviews of the 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival.

Official competition

“Triangle of Sadness”

By Ruben Ostlund

In his new film, the Swedish director shows Ruben Ostlund gives us a lot to see. For two and a half hours a feeling of uneasiness runs through us; At its peak, “Triangle of Sadness” even tramples the limits of what is bearable.

The feature film wants to be a sharp criticism of the rich and beautiful in this world. So Yaya (Charlbi Dean), beautiful model, wants to end her career and marry a millionaire. A drunken cruise captain (Woody Harrelson), disgusted by the haute cuisine, prefers to order hamburgers and fries.

filmmakers Ruben Ostlund, already awarded the Palme d’Or in Cannes in 2017 with “The Square”, puts his audience’s pain threshold to the test. In its middle section, longer than the other two, disgust mixes with almost childlike joy. Without revealing more about the film, every twist surprises, every line is contemporary.

And if you think it doesn’t get any more radical than that, “Triangle of Sadness” will be happy to contradict you. But beyond a blanket criticism of those who squander their wealth on decadence, the feature wonderfully questions role models, gender images and conventions. An extraordinary wealth of ideas, a satire perfectly staged and carried by a very special love of detail, even to the simplest.

(Review: Teresa Vena)

“Brother and sister”

By Arnaud Desplechin

In the competition for the Palme d’Or in Cannes, “Brother and Sister” gets to the bottom of blood relationships. At the time of their parents’ death, a brother and sister who have been separated for more than 20 years must face each other. Arnaud Desplechin Sign an ode to brotherhood, for better…as well as for worse.

After “Tromperie” (2021), adaptation of the novel by Philip Roth, Arnaud Desplechin seems to want to remain persistent in the study of human relationships. This time more out of dislike than love… Contrary to what one might think, it’s not a family secret that triggers the fraternal rift. Alice and Louis have been close for a long time. On the plane that took him back to Paris, Louis – a writer in between – crossed Sylvain Teson and Frederic Beibeder – is suddenly seized by an impulse.

He writes a letter to his sister on a piece of paper. Staring at the camera, he remembers their childhood bond but also his grumpy and awkward character. This sequence breaks the fourth wall and finds its mirror in the final minutes of the feature film. Because the dialogue between the two characters does not exist. A repulsion that even affects physical integrity. The inevitable meeting takes place in the hospital corridors. While visiting her parents, Alice collapses at the sight of her brother.

The fuzziness and incomprehensible bonds of sibling relationships are unfortunately covered up by the escalation of violence and resentment, which is thematically relevant. There’s no denying that on-screen visceral hate, but was it necessary to do the same? However, the final part of the film resolves the chimera. The bellows sinks, the stamina of the viewer too.

Read the full review.

(Review: Fanny Agostino)

“Tchaikovsky’s Wife”

By Kirill Serebrennikov

From “Swan Lake” to “The Nutcracker”, the compositions of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky are among the best-known works of classical music. However, the likely homosexual artist was unsurprisingly married. And it is his wife Antonina who is mentioned in the opulent historical drama Kirill Serebrennikov.

When Tchaikovsky makes his wife clearly understand the dislike she arouses in him, she clings, obsessed with her marriage. A characterization that is part of an interpretation of the character that emphasizes the influence Antonina would have had on the composer and blames her for his downfall by hindering his genius.

For two and a half hours we witness the repeated humiliation of the not entirely innocent protagonist. What emerges is a sense of voyeurism, a search for pleasure in the suffering and misery of others, bathed in misogyny. A more critical approach could have focused on the circle of men around the artist. In fact, homosexuality was, as it still is today, a taboo subject in Russia, a dangerous identity to openly embrace. “Discrediting” a national hero like Tchaikovsky could be just as risky.

From this main character, the personification of fanaticism, a political and critical intention of the director could emerge Kirill Serebrennikov. When Tchaikovsky writes to his wife, all his words are calculated, using elements of typical love letters to win her over and flatter his own ego. And so Antonina idolizes him as a superior being and doesn’t care if he behaves like a ruthless tyrant. This blindness, this need to be directed, could be seen as a comment on that Putin and its surroundings.

(Review: Teresa Vena)

“The Bergotto”

By Felix van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch

Flemish filmmaker, Felix van Groeningen had already attracted public attention with his previous films. His biggest hit, The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012), featured a young couple coping with their daughter’s leukemia. A melodrama that engulfed us. “Le otto monagne”, a French-Italian-Belgian production, is about two childhood friends, Bruno and Pietro.

If Bruno comes from the high mountains of the Apennines in the Aosta Valley, Pietro is a city boy. Children, while the latter was on vacation with his family in the small village of Grana, they met and sympathized. Over the years, they eventually lose touch before reuniting more than a decade later. Based on the novel by the Italian writer Paolo Cogniti“Le otto montagne” (“The Eight Mountains” in French) questions the individual’s place in the world, identity and home.

Without the imposing mountain shots, majestic in 4:3 format, and the performance of his acting duo, the feature film could lack dynamism. The taciturn and often mute world of her characters adds complexity to the immersion, and the side dialogue added to the kitsch music won’t brighten things up.

In the absence of explanation, the cultural context can also elude foreign audiences, making the main actors’ efforts to adapt to their characters’ regional cultures futile. Finally, the film reproduces a few clichés, such as the mountain dweller cliché or Nepal as a place of inner quest. “Le otto monagne” will be this intense work, but with a somewhat thin story. Nevertheless, the extraordinary interpretations of Luca Marinelli and D’Alessandro Borghi.

(Review: Teresa Vena)

In some respects

“Return to Seoul”

By Davy Chou

A filmmaker between two cultures. The Franco-Cambodian director is regularly invited to international festivals as a director or producer Davy Chou is used to big existential themes: origin, identity or even the search for one’s place in this world. In Return to Seoul, Chou, whose parents fled Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge regime to France, delves into his family history and personal experiences.

Park Ji-Min in “Return to Seoul”
© Diamond Films

Here’s how “Return to Seoul” tells us the story of Freddie (Park Ji Min), a South Korean-born young woman who was adopted by a French couple after birth. Returning to her ancestral lands only as an adult, she now searches for her birth parents, less concerned with understanding why they fired her then than with filling a void within herself. A rocky but delicate inner quest; this is one of the guiding principles of the film, which takes a comforting look at people from other cultures.

In addition to the importance of the film’s subject, the passage allows a sensitive look at the still little-known phenomenon of the wave of mass adoptions of South Korean children in the years before the country’s economic boom. Composed of memorable images, Return to Seoul is artistically demanding.

(Review: Teresa Vena)

Cannes premiere

“Night of the 12th.”

By Dominik Moell

“In France, 20% of murder investigations never lead to the arrest of the perpetrator”. This is how “The Night of the 12th”, the filmmaker’s new feature film, begins Dominik Moell which plunges us into the heart of a dark criminal case: one night a hooded man douses a young woman with petrol and sets it on fire. Yohan’s Unit (Bastien Bouillon), the newly appointed chief of the criminal investigation department, is leading the investigation.

Since his thrillers “Harry, a friend who wishes you all the best” (2000) and “Seules les Bêtes” (2019), the French director has demonstrated a sense of rhythm, a dry, often cynical humor and precise directing of his actors. Here the filmmaker deals with the horrors of femicide and leads the duo Bastien Bouillon and Bouli Lanners in the shoes of two convincing investigators. Two men who speak little but are honest and embody a masculinity aware of their social responsibility.

For more than two hours, the film uses a dense staging to maintain the tension of its film. Inspired by the book ‘18.3: A Year in PY’ by writer Pauline Guéna (also screenwriter), ‘La nuit du 12’ offers a dark, complex and tense exploration of the heart of the criminal police force and a grim investigation.

The form of the feature film opposes a more conventional structure of thriller and detective film and even leaves welcome space for a few humorous touches, be it the moments at the photocopier or the digressions while writing the endless reports. At the heart of the scourge of feminicide and violence against women, Dominik Moell Face its theme and “La nuit du 12” to make the very good story out of it.

(Review: Teresa Vena).

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