Films Big And Small Win Hearts At Cannes

Originally published on May 22, 2011 1:49 pm
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Ann Hornaday is a film critic for the Washington Post, just back from Cannes this week, and she's in our studio. Welcome to the program.

M: It's great to be here.

HANSEN: This year, there was a record number of female directors with films in the festival - four, if I'm not mistaken - which is not really a big number, but were the films a big deal?

M: There was a very interesting police thriller, called "Police," by the French actress Maiwenn, about a unit in the Paris police department who deal with child exploitation - and dealing with some of the most horrific subject matter you could imagine, but injecting it with so much improbable humor and humanity. And you really get to know all of these police officers, and grow to love them. And I really hope it manages to find a home here 'cause I think people would really get a lot out of it.

HANSEN: And there was also the Tilda Swinton movie "We Need to Talk about Kevin."

M: Exactly. And this is the one that I was looking the most forward to because I was a huge fan of the novel by Lionel Shriver. And the fans of that book were quite trepidatious about any kind of film adaptation. And the book is really an epistolary novel. Very much...

HANSEN: Letters in...

M: Letters back to the woman writing - played by Tilda Swinton - writing back to her husband. And I think a lot of people's biggest fear would be that it would be narrated. And instead, the Scottish director Lynne Ramsay has just really invented a visual language to tell this very horrific story about a woman and her failure to attach with her infant son, and then the ramifications of that.

HANSEN: Well, we've heard a lot about Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris," which opened the festival, and "The Tree of Life" from Terrence Malick, which is about nature and religion, and a lot of other big ideas. But there's another attention-getter - and it's almost a throwback - called "The Artist."

M: But also "A Star is Born," because while this sort of fading silent star is seeing his livelihood fade way, he falls in love with a very up-and-coming, young voice star. It is the most beautifully filmed and beautifully acted movie - and like the Malick, really ambitious, you know, in its artistic desires but with this very sincere, very humanistic heart at its center. And that was the theme that really carried through the whole festival.

HANSEN: When you're at a festival like Cannes, which is so huge, do the industry insiders talk a lot about where film is going?

M: So there's this sort of sense that even though the economy has very much affected film acquisition and film production, there was a lot of activity. You know, even if it's on their iPhone or on their iPad or in their home entertainment system, they want these narratives.

HANSEN: Ann Hornaday is the film critic of the Washington Post, speaking to us about the Cannes Film Festival, which ends today. Thanks for coming in, Ann.

M: A pleasure. Thank you, Liane. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.