Cannes round-up: Rust and Bone, Paradise: Love, After the Battle, Broken and Mekong Hotel


It's the rule in Cannes: arrive champing at the bit for drop-dead masterpieces, and be prepared to swallow a few disappointments before things really warm up.

As the competition kicks in, we've already had one film that had everyone on tenterhooks, and ended up polarising reactions. Jacques Audiard's prison drama A Prophet was the toast of Cannes 2009, so a lot was hanging on follow-up Rust and Bone. Indeed, it's had some of the press raving, while others tut-tutted about a major disappointment.

I'll be more cautious – serious flaws notwithstanding, this is a formidable film. Audiard's least thriller-like work to date, it's an essay in harsh realism, about the bond between a none-too-bright (and none-too-sympathetic) bruiser (Mathias Schoenaerts) and a marine-park trainer (Marion Cotillard) whose life is changed after a terrible accident. Perhaps because it's adapted from a set of short stories, the narrative rambles too much for comfort, and the drama loses credibility with a last-minute shock event unworthy of Audiard's usual subtlety. But few directors create complete worlds with the immersive coherence that Audiard achieves with this abrasive low-life panorama. And Cotillard's emotionally and physically demanding performance is so compelling that you rather wish Audiard had built the entire film around her character.

A definite disappointment is Paradise: Love, the first in a trilogy by Austrian social satirist Ulrich Seidl, whose films can usually be relied on to put the wind up audiences. This one followed a Viennese matron, on holiday in Kenya, whose search for love becomes an apprenticeship in sexual tourism. Fearlessly acted by Margarete Tiesel, Love makes its often cruel points about colonialism and exploitation quickly and effectively, then bangs them home at repetitive length.

The biggest missed opportunity in competition, however, was After the Battle, by Egypt's Yousry Nasrallah. Talk about hot off the press: the film addresses the aftermath of last year's anti-Mubarak uprising, through a Cairo-set romance of sorts between an intellectual woman of the media and a hunky working-class horse trainer. But a hyperbolic tone, some dire over-acting and much verbose political debate made this a leaden trudge, resembling a rendezvous between Ken Loach and Barbara Cartland on the banks of the Nile.

The first of a handful of British films here is Broken, the feature debut by theatre director Rufus Norris. It's a sombre coming-of-age story in the form of a suburban drama, with a careworn Tim Roth embroiled in a clash between neighbours triggered by the rage of a violent dad (Rory Kinnear). Norris directs confidently, if impersonally – the overall feel has over-familiar echoes of Andrea Arnold and Lynne Ramsay – and the film lends itself a little too easily to being fitted into the "Brit Miserabilism" bracket. There's also a distinct touch of classism in the treatment of Kinnear's daughters as, not to put too fine a point on it, red-headed prole spawn from hell. But the winning card is young Eloise Laurence, as the 11-year-old through whose eyes we see it all: she's characterful and boisterously eccentric (and with her chunky haircut, would be a shoo-in if they ever filmed the childhood of Iris Murdoch).

Meanwhile, the oddest thing I've seen is the hour-long Mekong Hotel, by Thailand's Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010 Palme d'Or winner with his Uncle Boonmee. A quizzical sidebar to his work, this is less a mini-feature than an extended art video, a beautifully shot sequence of conversations laced with acoustic guitar – and a most unexpected quotient of gore, with a couple of non-sequitur entrail-gobbling scenes.

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living