FILM / Cannes Diary: Life and nothing but: They also show movies at the Cannes Film Festival. Sheila Johnston on those making the biggest waves
Tuesday 17 May 1994
They make films like Hal Hartley's Amateur (from the Directors' Fortnight), in which a cluster of this director's typically marginal and dislocated characters become embroiled in an outrageous thriller. Or like Exotica, another of Atom Egoyan's glacial meditations on fantasy, voyeurism, desire and the disintegration of the family. All these movies are highly intelligent and expertly crafted, but they have a cold heart.
There is one film here, however, which is exciting cinema and also carries a fierce emotional impact: Krzysztof Kieslowski's Red, the final part of his Blue, White, Red trilogy, which so far towers above the rest of the competition. Irene Jacob, a model involved in a destructive love affair, meets a reclusive judge (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who passes his time spying on his neighbours: hurt by a woman many years ago, he has become desiccated and bitter. But his curious friendship with Jacob brings him back to the world. The third major character, a young lawyer, seems to exist on the fringes of the story: his path keeps crossing Jacob's, but they appear destined to never quite meet. You gradually realise he is a younger Trintignant; they are doppelgangers a little like the two characters played by Jacob in Kieslowski's earlier The Double Life of Veronique. And, at the end, a tragedy gives all three of them a second shot at happiness.
The film includes many motifs from Kieslowski's earlier work, in a brighter key. The director remains as fatalistic as ever, but the powerful climax, which involves the major characters from Blue and White, suggests that, for all that they have suffered, they will ultimately survive.
In Berlin, Kieslowski announced his retirement from cinema, but at the press conference here he left film-lovers a glimmer of hope: he would like to spend the future in the country, on a chair . . . filming. 'I've had enough . . . but who knows?'
Against expectations, I liked Mike Figgis's The Browning Version, an arch- traditional remake of Terence Rattigan's bittersweet play and the only (part-) British film in competition. Albert Finney plays the central character, a disillusioned Classics master, as a man near to exploding with repressed energy and passion. It's an affecting performance that may cause history to repeat itself (Michael Redgrave won Best Actor here for the role in the 1951 version). But The Browning Version is also conventionally filmed, and makes a serious error in updating the setting. Its reception has been divided.
So has Riaba My Chicken, for which Andrei Konchalovsky, who has been based in America for some years, returns to his native Russia. He also returns to one of his own earlier films, Asya's Happiness (1967), which was banned by the Soviet authorities for its frank view of peasant life. Riaba revisits the same characters, but the tone is different: it's a broad folk comedy about a golden egg which becomes the centre of a fable on human folly and the chaos of Russian society. It's filmed with a hand-held camera and a cast of mainly non-professionals playing themselves, and has a wacky, erratic charm.
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
- 2 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 3 Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
- 4 Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
- 5 Refugee crisis: Aylan's life was full of fear - in death, he is part of 'humanity washed ashore'
The real reason Eddie Redmayne was cast as a trans woman in The Danish Girl
First Look at Bryan Cranston transformed into LBJ for HBO’s ‘All the Way’ film
Idris Elba is ‘too street’ to play 007, says James Bond author
This little boy loves books so much that he cries when his mother stops reading to him
Prog rock finally comes of age with launch of the first Official Progressive Chart
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up