Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

"It is described simply as “A Fable”, but there is nothing simple about this over-ambitious allegorical sprawl." | Photo: Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

All the big themes are here including greed, corruption, creation of a new world order and power play, in Francis Ford Coppola’s indigestible epic around the state of humanity and the world as he sees it. It is described simply as “A Fable”, but there is nothing simple about this over-ambitious allegorical sprawl.

Coppola probably has a right to indulge himself as he provided most of the $120million budget from, among other sources, his ancillary activities as a successful winemaker and seller. It has been a long time coming, with ideas swirling around his conscious for many decades.

Now the man behind such masterpieces as as The Godfather trilogy and Apocalypse Now has thrown everything into what may be a last throw of the dice, reuniting some of his veteran collaborators, including Laurence Fishburne and Giancarlo Esposito and colourful turns from the likes of Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight.

Sprinkle in such current generation talent as the lugubrious Adam Driver, a sleazy Shia LaBeouf, a manipulative Aubrey Plaza, as well as Nathalie Emmanuel, and Jason Schwartzman and there is the added fillip of a star-spotting bonanza.

Driver plays Cesar Catilina, an ambitious urban planner trying to drag a city which looks suspiciously like New York's Manhattan, into the future with all manner of schemes to revamp the urban sprawl including a special material he has developed trademarked Megalon. Like Coppola this character wants to pursue his dreams at any cost. Along the way there are nods to former president Donald Trump and the the riots that led to the storming of the White House and veiled echoes of the 9/11 terrorist attacks as a building pulverises into the ground.

It emerges as part-sci-fi, part historical epic with characters spouting Shakespeare and a chariot race in the arena of Madison Square Garden while in the skies above a Soviet satellite is ready to unleash radioactive debris over the populace. At one moment a man walks across the stage at the cinema and engages with an onscreen Driver - you have to pinch yourself to ensure it really happened and wasn’t a figment of AI.

Satire and sentimentality rub shoulders throughout yet despite misgivings Coppola leaves the unmistakeable feeling that he senses the human race will survive whatever the fates may have in store. To be so optimistic at the age of 85 is no small achievement.

Confronted with such a feast for the senses it is inevitable that Megalopolis will divide opinion, provide fodder for endless debates and interpretations. Coppola, you suspect, wouldn’t have it any other way.

Reviewed on: 17 May 2024
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Power play and corruption unfold in a futuristic city.

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Writer: Francis Ford Coppola

Starring: Giancarlo Esposito, Aubrey Plaza, Nathalie Emmanuel, Shia LaBeouf, Adam Driver, Kathryn Hunter, Laurence Fishburne, Dustin Hoffman, James Remar, Jason Schwartzman, Forest Whitaker, Jon Voight, Chloe Fineman, D.B. Sweeney, Talia Shire

Year: 2024

Runtime: 138 minutes

Country: US


Cannes 2024

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