• Festivals

Cannes 2019: The Croisette Stars Return

Tarantino. Malick. Almodovar. No doubt these three veteran regulars will have festivalgoers fighting over tickets. Cannes offers more than just the obvious big names in this year’s lineup, but most of the directors in the main competition are returnees: Xavier Dolan will be back on  the Croisette with Matthias & Maxime, a love story that he hopes will get a better public reception than It’s Only the End of The World, which was hated by critics and  made no money at the box office even though did win the Grand Prix. The French-Canadian author, who cemented a wunderkind reputation here, is aiming for all three this year.

French-Tunisian director Abdellatif Kechiche returns to Cannes with the Intermezzo of Mektoub, My Love, six years after his Palme d’Or with La Vie d’Adèle (Blue Is the Warmest Color). Jessica Hausner brings Little Joe, her sci-fi drama about a genetically engineered plant with Emily Beecham and Ben Whishaw to the Croisette. It is her fourth film in Cannes. Bon Joon Hoo is also back with Parasite, a tragic comedy about an unemployed family that infiltrates a richer one. Céline Sciamma will show her historical romance drama set in 18th century Bretagne, Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Isabelle Huppert, Brendan Gleeson, Marisa Tomei, and Greg Kinnear are the stars of a multi-generational tale set in an old town in Portugal, in Ira Sachs’ Frankie.

Jim Jarmusch’s festival opener, The Dead Don’t Die, Marco Bellocchio’s The Traitor, the Dardennes brothers’ Young Ahmed, Arnaud Desplechin’s Oh Mercy! and Ken Loach’s Sorry We Missed You are also among the 21 titles in competition.

And then there are the most anticipated ones. Terrence Malick won the Palme d’Or in 2011 for his Tree of Life. He returns with Hidden Life which was co-financed by Germany and formerly titled Radegund. In it, Austrian actor August Diehl stars as a conscientious objector during the 2nd World War, with Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Nyquist and Bruno Ganz – for whom this was the last appearance before his passing. Malick has promised that he would return to a more narrative storytelling, more in the vain of Badlands, his masterpiece, rather than the more experiential art films he has made in recent years. We are waiting with bated breath.

It was not clear for the longest time if Quentin Tarantino would finish his Once Upon A Time in Hollywood in time for the festival, but to the delight of his fans – and all the star watchers that cannot wait to get a glimpse of stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt – (not to mention festival director Thierry Frémaux) he has. It is the first time the auteur director has tackled a full-on story about Tinseltown. And also the first time he has assembled such a star-studded cast: in addition to DiCaprio and Pitt, Damien Lewis plays Steve McQueen and Margot Robbie is Sharon Tate, with co-stars Al Pacino, Dakota Fanning, James Marsden, Tim Roth, Kurt Russell, Rumer Willis, Bruce Dern, Lena Dunham, and Emile Hirsch among others. This film was also Luke Perry’s last job before his death. And in typical Tarantino fashion, he hired a cult legend, in this case, Brenda Vaccaro.

Playing in Cannes 2019 (clockwise from top left): Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, The Dead Don’t Die, Hidden Life, Rocketman, and Pain and Glory.

courtesy Cannes Film Festival


Pedro Almodovar enlisted his old friends to make what is touted as his most personal film, Pain and Glory: Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz star. Banderas – who owes his career to the director – said: “I essentially play him in this. It’s a very raw and honest and also painful portrayal.” The similarities are more than obvious. The central character, Salvador Mallo, is an aging gay Spanish director with spiky gray hair whose name contains all the letters in “Almodóvar.” Cruz plays the director’s mother in flashbacks.

Other interesting works premiere in the Directors’ Fortnight section, where 24 films are being shown with first-time directors automatically entered for the Camera d’Or prize. Among them are Robert Rodriguez’ micro-budget thriller Red 11, Wounds by Babak Anvari, which bowed in Sundance in January, and The Lighthouse by Robert Eggers.

In the Un Certain Regard sidebar and the out-of-competition sections, we’ll find Michael Covino’s The Climb, the documentary Diego Maradona about the world’s most famous soccer player by Asif Kapadia (who did the Amy Winehouse doc a few years ago and set a high bar for sport bios with Senna) and the highly anticipated biopic of Elton John, Dexter Fletcher’s Rocketman.

All that and more after Charlotte Gainsbourg and Javier Bardem host the opening of the 72nd Cannes Film Festival Tuesday, onstage at the Grand Théâtre Lumière.