The Festival de Cannes screened in Competition Youth by Italian director Paolo Sarrentino and Mountains May Depart by Chinese director Zhang-ke Jia.
Paolo Sorrentino (Italy/United Kingdom/Swiss) – 1h58
Youth is a gift of God: God is in Miss Universe’s sculptural and sensual forms, God is in Youth, God is in young bodies, He then abandons to massages and balneotherapy.
But if the body is promised to decay, the mind remains vibrant and curiosity and emotions are fit longer. At 44, Paolo Sorrentino is addressing the betrayal of the old age with tenderness and humor and a dream cast in a film of great cinematic style.
At the twilight of their lives
Two friends in the twilight of their lives, Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine) and Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel), enjoy a quiet holiday in a luxury hotel at the foot of the Swiss Alps in a grandiose scenery. Fred is a retired composer but Mick, a filmmaker, is still working on his ultimate scenario. Between two spa treatments, they discuss with wisdom and sometimes cynicism of their past life, their loves and observe the lives of other residents, betting on their behaviour to try to forget their blocked bladders.
Their certainties, forged with age and reflection, are jostled: Mick’s son leaves Fred’s daughter, (Rachel Weisz), who eventually tells her father a few home truths. Then, Mick’s favorite actress, Brenda Morell (Jane Fonda) arrives from Hollywood for a harsh settling of scores… Other residents revolve around the two main characters, everyone seeking to feel alive: a paunchy Maradonna that still does well with a tennis ball, a California actor (Paul Dano) who tries to survive beyond his role of Mister Q, a robot character, a Tibetan monk who’s been trying to levitate for 20 years…
Original cinema nuggets
The passing of time that waits for no one is staged with a smart camera creating a stylized visual world, images of gorgeous landscapes, and original nuggets, like a dream in the manner of a brilliant video clip, or even the prodigious bells, bellowing and Nature concert directed by Fred. Two superstars, Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel, high class second roles, Jane Fonda (prodigious in her role as street-wise actress), Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano, excellent dialogues, and especially great deal of humor permeating all the scenes make this film a masterpiece.
A regular of La Croisette Red Carpert, the Italian director has seen almost all his films selected in the competition, even if he has only yet got a Jury Prize for Il Divo in 2008. What if his last year’s Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for “The Great Belezza” foreshadowed a Palme?
Mountains May Depart
Zhang-Ke Jia (Chine/France) – 2h11
From a certain age, one goes further than the present, one looks to the future. The topic of the film is the link between feelings and time: over time the feelings are better understood.
Jia Zhang-Ke’s film is divided into three parts, late 1999, 2014 and 2025, featuring a love triangle and their descent, in a movie about changing China with the nascent capItalism, the first great fortunes and the “Go West” – song in the film.
Loved by two different men
In the small city of Fenyang (Shanxi central province, the director’s birthplace), Tao, a teacher (Zhao Tao) is courted by two different men: Jinsheng (Zhang Yi) and Lianzi (Jindong Liang). One is minor in the other’s just bought mine. Faced with the choice to travel by scooter or car, Tao prefers a more promising future with Jinsheng. Heartbroken, Lianzi departs.
The warm light of capitalism
Entering the “warm light of the new century” and capitalism, Jinsheng calls his son Dollar! But disillusionment will come soon with his divorce from Tao who comes back alone in Fenyang where Lianzi finally returned also, seriously ill. Dollar, brought by his father to Australia, is cut off from his roots. In a technological future, rejecting his father’s lifestyle, Dollar seeks his own way and his mother in relationship with a mature woman.
The screen widens
The three parts of the film were filmed with three different cameras, symbolizing the crossing of times and the screen enlarges throughout the movie that includes scenes foreign to the narrative: a plane crash and a tiger in a cage… The three parts are crossed by a character wearing a Chinese spear on his shoulder, symbolizing the tradition, still important in China.
Mountains May Depart exudes a poignant, disconsolate melancholy, with people astray, lost in a dehumanizing change of civilization. Family relationships are blown up, people lose sight of each other in the globalization and even the mountains feel like going away.
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