COMMENTARY | On May 11, one of the most highly regarded film events in the world, the Cannes Film Festival, opens up with the new Woody Allen film “Midnight in Paris,” starring Owen Wilson and others. At Cannes, many films such as Allen’s will be showcased only, but 19 will be in competition for the coveted Golden Palm as the festival runs from May 11 to May 22. Since trying to see all 19 films is a bit ambitious, here’s a few of the contenders I am especially excited about.
Directed by Nicolas Winding Ref
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Christina Hendricks, Carey Mulligan
This film was originally supposed to star Hugh Jackman, but I do think Ryan Gosling is a good choice. Gosling is more notably a dramatic actor (Lars and the Real Girl, Blue Valentine, Half Nelson) and Drive is his first action role. He plays a stunt driver who moonlights as a criminal getaway driver. When one of the heists goes wrong, the real trouble begins.
The film also stars Christina Hendricks from television’s award winning Madmen and Carey Mulligan, who received critical acclaim for her roles in An Education and Never Let Me Go. The 2004 novel “Drive,” by James Sallis, on which the film is based has been called “masterly convoluted neo-noir “by Publisher’s Weekly and, if done well, this movie could really go places.
Directed by Julia Leigh
Starring Emily Browning
This is one of the few competition selections that actually has a trailer, which leaves the viewer with possibly more questions than they started with. Emily Browning plays a university student who gets caught up in a very dangerous world. It definitely seems intriguing as it looks into the complexities of high-end prostitution — certainly a far cry from any Disney fairytale. I’m curious to see how it unfolds.
Although Julia Leigh is new to directing and screenwriting (she also wrote the film), her efforts have already been lauded by serious veterans. Of course, being selected to make your grand debut at Cannes is nothing to sneeze at. The award-winning Australian novelist of “The Hunter” and “Disquiet” has taken her creativity to the next level with training that involved following her instincts and paying attention. Sounds like a good strategy to me.
Browning, also Australian, began her acting career as a child, but has grown into a beautiful young woman. Her film credits include Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and Sucker Punch.
We Need to Talk About Kevin
Directed by Lynne Ramsay
Starring Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, and Ezra Miller
The horrific events of the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings left most of us asking questions about how and why, but these questions never really got answered. While I’m not sure if it is possible for anyone to really succeed in giving any answers, We Need to Talk About Kevin at least makes the attempt to try. The novel, first published in 2004 and the winner of the Orange Prize, takes the reader through a series of letters that Kevin’s mother writes to her estranged ex-husband looking for some understanding after her son shoots seven of his classmates.
Swinton has a long list of film credits, including her recent role as The White Witch in The Chronicles of Narnia films. Reilly is truly one of my favorite actors, giving strong performances in Magnolia and Chicago, although his characters in those films were not spotlighted. Ramsay takes a risk in casting actors in the lead roles who are more commonly known as character actors, really driving home the point that these people could be one of us.