Entertainment & Arts

Cannes Film Festival: What did the critics think?

After 10 days of films, frocks and fizz, the 70th Cannes Film Festival has come to an end.

The prestigious Palme d'Or has been handed out, having been chosen from a selection of 19 films in competition.

The jury, headed by Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, selected winners for acting, writing and directing too.

But did the jury get it right? Film critics gave the BBC their views on the hits and misses from the festival.


Image copyright Memento

Jon Frosch, reviews editor at The Hollywood Reporter, said: "My favourite was French film BPM (Beats Per Minute), about Aids activists. It's a really no-nonsense drama - both a group portrait of activists and a love story. It is really unsentimental, beautifully done, and would be my choice for the Palme d'Or."

He also had praise for Good Time - a heist film set in New York about a man trying to free his brother from jail - and The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), starring Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson and Ben Stiller, about a dysfunctional family coming together amid a crisis.

Image copyright A24
Image caption Robert Pattinson (left) has won praise for his performance in Good Time

"I also really, really liked the Safdie brothers film Good Time," said Frosch.

"It's a very dynamically shot crime thriller with a great performance from Robert Pattinson, who has a really good Queens accent - he's fantastic. He's magnetic and doesn't have any of those methody mannerisms that pretty actors can sometimes do when playing low-lifes.

Image copyright Netflix
Image caption Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler play half-brothers in The Meyerowitz Stories

"And I really liked Noah Baumbach's The Meyerowitz Stories, which I thought was his most mellow film in a long time. Another surprise, other than Pattinson, was Adam Sandler in that movie - he was just really funny and tender."


Finn Halligan, chief film critic at Screen Daily, said this year's offering was not up to the standard of last year - which saw the Palme d'Or go to Ken Loach for I, Daniel Blake, with Oscar nominated Elle also debuting.

"Having seen all the competition titles, I'd say it hasn't been a banner year - although there were some good fun films in there, like the Safdie brothers' Good Time and Francois Ozon's L'amant Double," she said.

The latter film is a thriller about a model who is in a love triangle with twin brothers - and involves one of Cannes' most explicit sex scenes ever seen.

Image copyright Amazon Studios
Image caption Joaquin Phoenix stars in You Were Never Really Here

She also had praise for You Were Never Really Here by Briton Lynne Ramsay, about a man - played by Joaquin Phoenix - trying to save a kidnapped girl, describing it as "the flip-side of Sofia Coppola's delicate sensibilities in The Beguiled".

That film, one of four works shown at Cannes featuring Nicole Kidman, is about an injured soldier taken in by a girls' boarding school in the American Civil War.

But Halligan was more taken by Kidman's role in The Killing of a Sacred Deer, where she plays the wife of a surgeon who brings a teenage boy into their home, with dangerous repercussions for the family.

"When she's great, she's amazing. She's completely unadorned and playing, and looking, her age - which is not a bad thing, but done in a really realistic way. It's her at her absolute best."


Jason Solomons, critic for Radio 4's Front Row and The New European, said: "It was an average, quite conservative selection this year - not a vintage year. They could really do with a bit more variety and a bit more looking forward.

"It all felt too white, too male and too Western and looking at the past. I still think we need to see more African cinema, more Chinese cinema and more Indian cinema."

Image copyright Altitude Film Distribution
Image caption Loveless was directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev

He singled out Russian films Loveless - about a warring couple searching for their missing son - and Gentle Creature, which tells the story of a woman visiting her husband in jail.

"Russian cinema was very strong this year, particularly the film Loveless which I thought was tremendous and powerful but also very funny and is a film meaty enough to win the Palme d'Or - it had that heft.

"Its director, Andrey Zvyagintsev, has been at the top of his game for a long time so it's time to recognise that. He's bold and brave and takes on Russia.

"Sergei Loznitsa's Gentle Creature was rather divisive - it has two good hours, then a half hour I'd cut, with a terrible rape scene which is rather brutal, and a dream sequence that doesn't make sense."

Image copyright Films Du Losange
Image caption Happy End has been inspired by the themes explored in Michael Haneke's award-winning Amour

He added that BPM was "terrific", adding: "I found The Meyerowitz Stories sweet and funny, and it could see a supporting Oscar nomination for Dustin Hoffman."

But of Michael Haneke film Happy End - about a bourgeois family living in Cannes - he said: "I don't know if it's a bad film or absolute genius."


Freelance critic Damon Wise, contributing editor at Empire, described it as a "funny year" which left people "feeling a bit short-changed".

He said: "I certainly know that some are wondering whether planning a starry 70th birthday party was a bigger priority for the festival."

He said Netflix's other film Okja - Bong Joon-ho's work telling the story of a young girl's battle to save her pet superpig from an evil corporate giant - along with The Beguiled and The Killing of a Sacred Deer were among his favourites.

Image copyright Netflix
Image caption Okja is produced by Netflix, which has been a controversial brand at Cannes

He said BPM hit him "in the gut", adding: "My favourite film came right at the last minute - Lynne Ramsay's You Were Never Really Here - it's so brutal and at the same time so subtle.

"I had to see it twice, just to make sure what I thought of it. It sounds obvious - a hitman wants to get out of the game - but Ramsay crafts something unexpectedly fantastic from a really familiar story. There's a terrific, totally unnerving score from Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood that kept me glued to my seat."


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