The Festival de Cannes presented on May 20th in Official Competition Young Ahmed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (Belgium) and Frankie by Ira Sachs (USA). Nicolas Bedos’ film La Belle Epoque (France) was screened “hors compétion”.
Young Ahmed and radicalization
For their eighth participation at the Cannes Film Festival, the Dardenne brothers – two Palmes d’Or – evoke the radicalization of a young Muslim in Belgium. Under the guise of a fundamentalist imam, Ahmed, 13, becomes obsessed with the supposed “impurity” of his teacher. After attempting to kill her, he is locked up in a center of de-radicalization, where educators seek ways of thinking to appease the soul of the boy tormented by his fanaticism.
Frankie, a day in a death
There is a unity of time in Frankie by Ira Sachs: the story tells, between the morning and the afternoon, a day of family vacation, a parenthesis of life wanted by an actress condemned in the short term by cancer. We are in a seaside resort of Portugal, Sintra, which starts from the beach and climbs upon wooded hills. In this environment, the life of Frankie (Isabelle Huppert) is ending – rather serenely – while others are builduing theirs. All this takes place along skits staging different characters with different lives. The family members are there for Frankie, but also for them, for their couple…
Links appear as the story unfolds
Frankie is calmly contemplating her impending end, but is thinking of her posterity under the form of an aid fund for comedians that she will provide. Before leaving, she would like to marry her son, but her friend Ilène, which she intended for her son, is already with someone… The film evokes couples at different stages of their lives: first kiss, divorces, marriages again… The film goes through several tones according to the life and history of the people or groups of people animating the scenes. The suspense consists in discovering the links between the protagonists and what will happen to them as the story progresses.
We can see the seams
The family is never really gathered around Frankie but in the end. She passes from one to another of the people around her in a succession of scenes a little confusing, a stack where the surge of emotion doesn’t pass. On a scene it rains – we see azuleros, question of local color, like the few words of Portuguese – and in the following scene, the ground is dry. We see the seams of the poorly tied construction and the viewer is hardly swept away by the plot, as Ira Sachs remains behind. And then, the scenes are really powerful when Isabelle Huppert is acting… The rest could simply fill the back of a postcard.
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The Red Carpet of La Belle Epoque in pictures
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