Film Scouts Diaries

1998 Cannes Film Festival Diaries
Cannes Diary #3: Mid-Festival Lull

by Cari Beauchamp

There is usually a mid festival lull, but this year's "Walk Out Wednesday" was a new nadir. The morning started with Lars von Trier's Idiots, focusing on a group of young people who "spend all their spare time together exploring the hidden and less appreciated values of idiocy." Von Trier is treated in Denmark as their Quentin Tarintino and while I appreciated Von Trier's Breaking the Waves two years ago, his Europa, shown here in Cannes in 1992 (and retitled Zentropa for American release so not to be confused with Europa, Europa) did not enrapture me. It did win a technical prize that year, but von Trier threw a fit as he collected it on closing night, tossing the citation to the ground and saying he would give it to his technician. And he set the place buzzing when he thanked "the dwarf and the rest of the jury" referring to Roman Polanski, president of the jury that year. And yet he was invited back -- don't ask me to exlain it.

Critics I spoke too afterwards to a person told me that whatever I'd done after walking out of Idiots was time better spent. Yet several also informed me I missed a shower scene reminiscent of the final shot of Boogey Nights -- the women telling me it was truly a spectacular sight to behold, but the men claimed there was nothing out of the ordinary.

From Idiots, I went upstairs to the new Salle des Ambassadeurs (a theater constructed within the old 4th floor ballroom of the Palais that everyone agrees is a welcome addition) to see Claire Dolan, written and directed by Lodge Kerrigan. Kerrigan brought us Clean, Shaven several years ago, a creative edgy film that showed real promise, but Claire Dolan turned out to be student film, 101.

It opens intriguingly, with Claire (played with unwavering solemnity by Katrin Carlige) talking on a pay phone and dressed in a wool coat, telling the unseen, clearly male, listener that she is in bed and thinking about only him. It quickly evolves that she is a prostitute in debt to a pimp/loan shark played by Colm Meany (wasted in a one dimensional role) and when her mother dies, she half heartedly tries to run away to start a new life. The one even vaguely rounded performance is given by Vincent D'Onofrio (Lili Taylor's fisherman boyfriend in Mystic Pizza). He is alternatingly soft, caring and brutal as the only real relationship Claire even begins to have, but there is no motivation for why he would be attracted to her in the first place let alone stick around for while. The constant use of a sound track meant to tell us there is danger lurking around every corner gets old very quickly and the half dozen fade outs underscores one of the most amateur editing jobs seen in competition. What could have been an interesting look at a self destructive woman seeking to regain some control is delivered as an unsympathetic, unrealistic male fantasy.

With these two films in competition on the same day, one has to wonder what films were rejected.

Previous Installment | Next Installment

Back to Cannes Film Festival Diaries

Look for Search Tips

Copyright 1994-2008 Film Scouts LLC
Created, produced, and published by Film Scouts LLC
Film Scouts® is a registered trademark of Film Scouts LLC
All rights reserved.

Suggestions? Comments? Fill out our Feedback Form.