During a frantic final few days in Cannes, the big-name American features in the festival’s official competition have struggled to compete with more interesting sideshows both on and off screen.
Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives reunites the Danish-American director with Drive star Ryan Gosling in a feverishly violent but largely hollow exercise in style that is set in the Bangkok underworld. James Gray’s The Immigrant, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Marion Cotillard, is a plodding historical drama set in 1920s New York. And Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive, a whimsical love story about hipster vampires living in modern-day Detroit and Tangiers, is not as much fun as it should be.
Instead, the headline-grabbing coup of the festival’s closing weekend was the surprise appearance of the banned Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof to launch his new political thriller Manuscripts Don’t Burn. Shot clandestinely in Iran and shrouded in secrecy until last week, this gripping saga of state censorship and murder was inspired by real events. Chillingly, the film played in Cannes without cast or crew credits for fear of government reprisals. Defying a 20-year-ban on filmmaking or leaving Iran, Rasoulof told assembled critics that he understood Iranian journalists would feel the pressure to attack the film when they go home. “I don’t care,” he said with a grin, “I forgive you.”
Meanwhile, celebrities continue to flood the festival. Once again, big names from music eclipsed the movie stars as Cannes welcomed Duran Duran, Kylie Minogue, Janet Jackson, the Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am and the rapper Snoop Lion, formerly Snoop Dogg. Another high-profile jewellery theft has also been reported from the luxurious Hotel du Cap in nearby Antibes, where the biggest stars stay during the festival. During a party at the hotel hosted by the Swiss jeweller De Grisogono, which was attended by Sharon Stone and Paris Hilton, a necklace worth $2.6 million (Dh9.55m) mys-teriously dis-appeared.
* Stephen Dalton
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