Cannes 2021, day 10: praise of the (non) masters of time

As it is heading peacefully towards its end, the Festival is illuminated by two moving films, cinema proposals all the more beautiful in that any superlative, like “mastery” or “masterful”, would be absolutely foreign to them, they who are entirely on the side of freedom.

Very different, moreover, Memory of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, in official competition, and Hug me tight by Mathieu Amalric, in the new official Cannes Première section, both received an endless ovation at the end of their screening.

The applause seemed to never end at the end of the session. Memory. In the center, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, on the left the general delegate of the Festival, Thierry Frémaux. | JM Frodo

There was gratitude, and a somewhat brave affirmation in the future of a very high idea of ​​cinema, just as much as a very legitimate admiration, in these minutes which did not want to be interrupted where hundreds of spectators , in the orchestra and on the balcony, gave a standing ovation to artists who, in Cannes, are then in the middle of the public and not on stage or on a red carpet.

An invitation to travel

The Thai filmmaker awarded a Palme d’Or eleven years ago for Uncle Boonmee this time geographically ventured far from his territory, in Colombia, but artistically, he always explores the same expressive and suggestive spaces.

Tilda Swinton, perfect as always, interprets a woman who hears explosions inaudible to any other and, from Bogota to the jungle, passing through an archaeological excavation, seeks the cause.

This quest and this research are the occasion for encounters and situations which do not form what we are used to calling a story, but make up an archipelago of time inhabited by vibrations which never cease to produce mental images, emotions. . An invitation to a Baudelairean journey, even if everything here is not only order and luxury, far from it, but beauty and pleasure yes, in a very unique way.

Time – a word which concerns at the same time duration, chronology, possible interferences between what we designate as past, present and future – is here a clay worked with love, with humor, with tenderness, with attention for all beings , humans, animals, plants, minerals, skies and meteors.

Both in the direct line of his work since Mysterious Objects at Noon at the dawn of this century and quite singular, including in an unprecedented and rebellious relationship to the fantastic, his eighth feature film is an invitation to a journey in the sensations and the imagination, which finds its inexhaustible and renewable energy ad infinitum, in this absolute freedom that the filmmaker has offered himself in his relationship to time.

Na Jiazuo et Wen Shipei aussi

Even while being wary of any generalization of the “Asian cinema” type, it is clear that this freedom with regard to time, of the temporal organization of stories, is also what characterizes two Chinese films in the official selection.

The posters of the two Chinese films in official selection.

The Nights of Zhenwu (à Un Certain Regard), the first film by young musician Na Jiazuo, and Are You Lonesome Tonight?, Wen Shipei’s first film, have in common a way of moving in time in a non-linear way.

The Nights of Zhenwu prefers situations with dramatic sequences, if a lot of things happen, including fights, love scenes and chases in the story of the young debt collector, the film is built by more or less connected layers rather than ‘throughout what we call a development.

Also bathed in an atmosphere of film noir, and a little too quick to cite the great references among his elders, Wong Kar-wai, Lou Ye and Diao Yi’nan in particular, Are You Lonesome Tonight? proceeds through narrative loops, returning to each episode differently, approaching it from another angle or from the point of view of another character.

In both cases, the temporal continuity is broken, and the issues of rhythm as of dramatic logic, which do not disappear, are defined according to rules very different from the dominant Western model.

The puzzle of suffering and liberation

With Hug me tight, Mathieu Amalric also stands out, but in another way. When the young mother of a family played, magnificently, by Vicky Krieps (whose second luminous appearance at the Festival, after Bergman Island) leaves his home, we understand that something serious is happening.

The nature of this crisis, the film will build step by step the understanding, and especially the sensation, by associating in a disturbing way various bursts of existence, various moments, various exchanges between the young woman, her husband and their two children.

In their house in a village in the South-West, in the mountains, by the sea, on motorway rest areas, aboard a curious car (a AMC Pacer Break) of which we do not really know if it is the vehicle of a desperate flight, of a tragic quest or of a liberation, in different seasons over several years, the scenes which at first seem unrelated, if not contradictory, end up by draw a very moving and dramatic pattern.

Clarisse (Vicky Krieps), on a liberating or fatal road? | Gaumont

In another way, the abandonment of temporal continuity in favor of a composition (it is not trivial that the music occupies an important place in the film) inhabited by other necessities, emotional rather than descriptive, s proves to be an admirable cinematographic resource.

Consequently, the trajectories of the young woman, the changes of landscapes and moods, the out of tune harmonics can deploy the iridescence of the affects, under the influence of the most tragic as of the impulse of life. From this logical letting go, an intimate displacement is born, with intimate echoes infinitely picked up and deployed.

The film is scheduled for release on September 8.

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