The Cannes Film Festival competition continued with Jessica Hausner’s Club Zero and Wes Anderson’s highly anticipated film Asteroid City.
Festival de Cannes 2023 : the competition today presents two major films in Competition: Club Zero by Jessica Hausner, who already came to the Croisette to present Amour Fou at Un Certain Regard in 2014. Little Joe, the filmmaker’s fifth feature film in the running for the Palme d’Or for the first time, earned Emily Beecham the Best Actress Award in 2019. After The French Dispatch, a film with sketches based on a French magazine from the 20th century, Wes Anderson presents Asteroid City, a jubilant science fiction film with a magnificently beautiful aesthetic and a script full of surprises.
Club Zero, deliciously subversive
Here’s something new, fresh, unedited, deliciously subversive that the Cannes Festival has the mission – if not the duty – to present! Just think: destroy capitalism by stopping eating! Miss Novak (Mia Wasikowska), the new nutrition teacher, shakes up the eating habits of the well-fed students of a boarding school for the rich, the Talent Campus (we have more in us!). She teaches Conscious Eating: becoming more aware of what you swallow by breathing before you eat. Through her lessons, students become aware of the benefits of eating less, or even little: until now, their beliefs were just a brainwashing. But eating less fights consumerism, saves the planet and gives better health. And what if stopping eating led to eternal life? For that, you have to join the Club Zero…
In Club Zero, Viennese director Jessica Hausner discusses the problems of children whose parents have no time for them, children who punish their parents by refusing to eat, leaving them in fear. It also deals with the manipulation of young minds, quick to change the world, to question the values inculcated by parents, and in which an ideology takes root that will become a faith, even a religion. The film also denounces the relationship of trust between teachers and parents who delegate responsibility for their children to a teacher – who goes too far. Soon, to the parents’ dismay, the pupils stop eating altogether and find tricks to avoid eating.
A grimacing fairy tale
Club Zero is underpinned by a subtle and creative humour: the students’ yellow and purple uniforms, the chiselled dialogues, the well-polished still shots, the orderly and aseptic settings evoking a certain vacuity, the passivity of the parents and students as if subjugated by the indoctrination… All these elements give a hypnotic force to this hard-hitting but superbly digestible film, punctuated by singular strokes on a drum and notes of an Asian instrument. Club Zero is a grimacing fairy tale of cleverly graduated suspense, which, like all tales, contains its share of truths and morals. Its ending, reminiscent of Hamelin’s Pied Piper, who takes revenge by separating the children from their parents and dragging them to another world, will mark the 76th Festival.
Asteroid City, an alien descends from the sky
Asteroid City takes us to the crater of a meteorite that fell to earth 3,000 years ago in the middle of an imaginary desert where a hilarious pasteboard set with pastel colours and informative signs is flooded with light. Asteroid City is a tiny town with a gas station, bungalows, cacti and an astronomical observatory where antennas probe space for extraterrestrial messages. The desert inspires Augie Steenbeck (Jason Schwartzman), father of a genius and three adorable, mischievous girls, who photographs actress Midge Campbell (Scarlett Johansson) before lovingly giving her a line. The Junior Stargazer convention brings together military personnel, scientists and parents to celebrate the spectacular inventions of children when an alien descends from the sky.
A feast for the eyes
In fact, the spectator is in a play in the 1950s, and we go from the desert setting in colour to the black & white backstage where the author pulls the strings. Wes Anderson’s own graphic universe, the magic of the retro aesthetic, the humour of the situations and dialogues, the fascinating details, the minimalist acting, the travelling shot that slides the scenes give the film an extremely pleasant phantasmagorical character and make it a treat for the eyes, of dazzling beauty. The film captivates with its succession of stunning cinematographic surprises written by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola.
Two years after The French Dispatch, a sketch film of French stories in a fictional 20th century town, Wes Anderson has brought together a host of big names for Asteroid City: Jason Schwartzman and Scarlett Johansson, surrounded by Tom Hanks, Jeffrey Wright, Tilda Swinton, Brian Cranston, Adrien Brody, Margot Robbie and Steve Carell. This Hollywood cast supports an abundant work (perhaps a little too much) which, under its zany side, also questions the place of man in the cosmos. The film, screened for the first time, even for the team, earned Wes Anderson a long standing ovation.
The Red Carpet of Asteroid City in pictures
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