Cannes Film Festival 2023: French director Justine Trier Palme d’or in a prize list which rewarded the favorites

If the competition of the 76th Cannes Film Festival saw regulars, like Hirokazu Kore-Eda, Ken Loach, Wes Anderson or Wim Wenders, the latter did not give the best of themselves. They thus enabled newcomers to reach the top of the steps. French director Justine Triet won the Palme d’Or with her beautiful film trial, Anatomy of a falland Jonathan Glazer the Grand Prize with The Zone of Interest which approaches the Holocaust from the side of the Nazi executioners.

By awarding the Palme d’or to Justine Triet, the jury went in the direction of greater female representation within the competition of the official selection, two years after having offered it to Julia Ducournau for Titanium. There were indeed seven directors in the running out of twenty-one competitors for the Palme, a record, even if exact parity remains to be achieved. But isn’t this distribution between men and women in the image of that which reigns within the profession?

Casting error

Beyond parity remain the works. If Justine Triet’s film was on everyone’s lips since its screening, and was representative of a very fine French selection (including three films signed by female directors), it faced strong competition from The Zone of Interest, favored by a large number of festival-goers. So wouldn’t there be a “casting” error between this French Palme and the Grand Prix awarded to the American director?

Indeed, if Anatomy of a fall is a very beautiful film, it belongs to a classic genre – the trial film -, a pretext for the introspection of a couple, while The Zone of Interest treats the Shoah in an unprecedented way, the power of the treatment emanating from a mise en abyme of the Nazi horror, extremely mastered in an innovative staging. Anyway, Jonathan Glazer’s disappointment when he got on stage was visible, even if this “second” place is a great reward.

"The Zone of Interest" by Jonhatan Glazer (2023).  (FILMS BAC)

Three unexpected and well-deserved prizes

The Jury, Director and Screenplay Prizes were respectively awarded to Dead leaves by Aki Kaurismäki, The Passion of Dodin Bouffant by Tran Anh Hùng and Yuji Sakamoto, screenwriter of Monster.

The first, which corresponds to the favorite of the jury chaired by the Swedish director Ruben Östlund, rewarded the Finnish filmmaker, who had already won the 2002 Grand Prix at Cannes for The man without a past. The jurors praised the continuity and coherence of Aki Kaurismäki in his subjects and his stagings, whose social dominance and inventive modesty favor melodrama and the cinematographic language of the image over the dialogues. A link with the origins of silent cinema, which passes here through an explicit homage to city ​​lights (1931) by Charlie Chaplin.

The Passion of Dodin Bouffant, winner of the Director’s Award, is a real surprise, as the comments collected after its screening were mixed. This choice is most justified, as Tran Anh Hùng, with dual Franco-Vietnamese nationality, fascinates in his filming of the preparation, presentation and tasting of dishes, at the heart of a film which exalts French gastronomy in the Nineteenth century. His camera movements, lights and colorful compositions convey a smoothness that is matched only by the sensuality emanating from the subject, which opens up to sexuality in the passion of a gourmet (Benoît Magimel) for his cook (Juliette Binoche ). Gorgeous.

Benoît Magimel and Juliette Binoche in "La passion de Dodin Bouffant" by Tran Anh Hung (2023).  (2023 CURIOSA FILMS – GAUMONT – FRANCE 2 CINEMA)

Finally, the Screenplay Prize, awarded to the Japanese Yuji Sakamoto for his script for Monster, honors the best asset of this film signed Hirokazu Kore-Eda. The construction split into three parts of the film chosen by the Japanese director was not necessarily the best way to put into images this beautiful scenario devoted to the close friendship between two 11-year-old boys. Told from the perspective of a teacher, mother and child, with references to Rashomon by Akira Kurosawa (1950), the story suffers from this overly sophisticated construction. The scenario remains, in spite of this treatment, of a very beautiful sensitivity.

Two magnificent acting prizes

The prizes for male and female interpretation rewarded an actor and an actress who proved to be major assets in the quality of the works they interpret.

The Japanese actor in the film by Wim Wenders, Perfect Days, Koji Yakusho, who plays a Tokyo toilet worker with a passion for music, photography and trees, conveys a love for beauty whose emotion is palpable in every shot. Silent and solitary, he lives only for these contemplative and creative moments practiced like rituals. Caught up in his past by the unexpected arrival of a young niece, he pours into a torrent of emotions when he realizes the ties he has chosen to break with his rich family origins, to engage in a modest life. , but inhabited by a daily renewed love of the arts. Without Koji Yakusho, previously seen in The Third Murder by Hirokazu Kore-Eda (2018) for example, Perfect Days would not achieve its goals.

Finally, the Festival honored the Turkish actress Merve Dizdar, interpreter of the marvelous film by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Dried herbs, another serious contender for the Palme d’Or. She plays Nuray, a middle school English teacher whose colleague returning from Istanbul to her small hometown in Anatolia falls in love and who, thanks to her, will find hope again, while she is courted by his best friend.

Disabled, having lost a leg in life, Merve Dizdar exudes a vitality and sincerity on screen that illuminate the film. She communicates a range of emotions and an intelligence of words whose Dried herbs is covered from end to end to make it one of the most beautiful films of this 76th edition with many surprises. A reassuring vintage in terms of the quality of a demanding and innovative world cinema, always listening to the world.

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