FILM / Cannes Diary: Life and nothing but: They also show movies at the Cannes Film Festival. Sheila Johnston on those making the biggest waves

It is becoming more and more difficult to make wonderful movies. Watching Une Partie de campagne (1936), which kicked off a centenary tribute to the French master Jean Renoir, one is struck by its combination of beauty and passion, but above all by how rarely that combination is found today. Today, film-makers are hip, self-conscious, clever, cine-literate. They make witty genre pastiches like the opening night film, the Coen brothers' enjoyable comedy The Hudsucker Proxy, in which Tim Robbins plays an innocent sap propelled to the presidency of a conglomerate. It's a satire on the American way of greed, Frank Capra painted cynical and black.

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.

(Photograph omitted)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
    Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

    Front National family feud?

    Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century