Cannes anticipation at fever pitch

Countdown to programme launch.

by Richard Mowe

Agyness Deyn and Peter Mullan in Sunset Song
Agyness Deyn and Peter Mullan in Sunset Song

With only a few days to go before the official launch of this year’s Cannes Film Festival selection for both the Competition and Un Certain Regard on Thursday (16 April) the rumour mill has been rife with potential titles to figure in artistic director Thierry Fremaux’s closely guarded secrets.

Educated guesses suggest that there are better than average chance of Woody Allen’s 45th film, Irrational Man, will be there. He has form – both Midnight In Paris and Match Point were included out of Competition. Apparently Allen turns darker in this one, which stars Emma Stone and Joaquin Phoenix.

Cannes regulars Terence Davies (Peter Mullan stars in his literary adaptation of Sunset Song) and French auteur Jacques Audiard who made A Prophet and Rust And Bone, and has been rushing to finish an emigré drama, Erran, both look likely.

Emma Stone and Joaquin Phoenix in Irrational Man
Emma Stone and Joaquin Phoenix in Irrational Man

Many others are just waiting for the nod, among them Arnaud Desplechin with Three Memories Of Childhood starring Mathieu Amalric (a long-time collaborator); Italian veteran Marco Bellocchio and L’Ultimo Vampirothe; Stephen Frears with Icon, about a journalist’s expose of cyclist Lance Armstrong for the use of performance enhancers (featuring Ben Foster, Lee Pace and Dustin Hoffman); and Spain’s Alejandro Amenabar with crime mystery Regression and a top line cast of Emma Watson, Ethan Hawke and David Thewlis.

There are more Cannes favourites in Matteo Garrone of Gomorrah fame with The Tale Of Tales, a historical fantasy in English with Salma Hayek, John C Reilly, Vincent Cassel and Toby Jones; and Israeli Amos Gitai (a four-time Competition veteran) with Le Dernier Jour De Rabin, about the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

And there is much anticipation surrounding Todd Haynes (Velvet Goldmine) who finally is ready to unveil his Patricia Highsmith adaptation, Carol, which stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. Similarly the betting is on inclusion for Abdellatif Kechiche’s La Blessure, his follow up to 2013 Palme d'Or-winner Blue Is The Warmest Colour which has Gérard Depardieu in the lead role, as well as French director-actress Maïwenn follows (Polisse) with Mon Roi, starring Vincent Cassel and Louis Garrel.

Casting the net further afield, Japan's Hirokazu Kore-eda (2013 Jury Prize for Like Father, Like Son) has ready a family drama, Our Little Sister, and his countryman Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Bright Future) has a literary adaptation, Journey To The Shore, about a woman with a disappearing husband. Taiwan's Hou Hsiao-hsien's The Assassin finally may be ready after a long series of stops and starts, and it could mark the director's seventh Competition contender. Italian Nanni Moretti seems a shoe-in with Mia Madre which stars Moretti, John Turturro, and frequent muse Margherita Buy. This would be his sixth Competition title.

Meanwhile Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty) directs Michael Caine in Youth with Rachel Weisz, Harvey Keitel, Paul Dano and Jane Fonda. France's Gaspar Noé (Irreversible) could be back on the Croisette with his purportedly highly erotic Love, while revered Gallic director Jean-Paul Rappeneau, (Cyrano De Bergerac) returns to the fray with Belles Familles, featuring the prolific Mathieu Amalric.

Todd Haynes’s Patricia Highsmith adaptation, Carol, stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.
Todd Haynes’s Patricia Highsmith adaptation, Carol, stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.

Other names in the melting pot are Hong Kong's Johnnie To who, believe it or not, has created a musical of Noel Coward's Design For Living starring Chow Yun Fat and Sylvia Chang; Gus Van Sant (Palme d'Or-winner Elephant) directs Matthew McConaughey and Ken Watanabe as two depressed men in Sea Of Trees.

It's not clear whether Angelina Jolie's romantic comedy By The Sea (set in France) which reunites Jolie and husband Brad Pitt in front of the camera for the first time since Mr And Mrs Smith could secure a berth, but Canadian Denis Villeneuve’s cartel drama Sicario seems a strong possibility with Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio del Toro and John Bernthal in the cast.

It has also been announced that Isabella Rossellini is set to preside over the Un Certain Regard jury. The signing makes sense because she is the daughter of Italian director Roberto Rossellini and Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman, to whom this year’s Festival is to pay tribute.

Besides her jury president duties, Rossellini will also take part in a Cannes' tribute to her mother by attending the screening of Ingrid Bergman, in Her Own Words‏, a documentary by Stig Björkman being shown as part of the Cannes Classics.

Rossellini will award the Un Certain Regard prize on May 23.

For all the certainties rather than conjecture we all have to wait with bated breath until Thursday (16) when I’ll report directly from the ceremony in Paris.

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