By Robert Koehler
THE NOT-SO-SWEATY PALMES
Palme d’Or: Amour (Michael Haneke)
Grand Prize: Reality (Matteo Garrone)
Best Director: Carlos Reygadas for Post Tenebras Lux
Jury Prize: The Angels’ Share (Ken Loach)
Best Actor: Mads Mikkelsen for The Hunt
Best Actresses: Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan for Beyond the Hills
Best Screenplay: Cristian Mungiu for Beyond the Hills
Camera d’Or: Beasts of the Southern Wild (Behn Zeitlin)
Michael Haneke can no longer have anything to complain about. Expecting to win the Palme every time he makes a film, Haneke has now broken general patterns and won two Palme d’Ors in four years—a rarity surpassed only by, yes, believe it, Bille August. (Cannes used to be even worse.) With plenty of amour for Amour, a film that reportedly was widely and strongly supported by nearly the entire jury, Haneke can go home and not worry anymore. He’ll then be back later this year and early next year to pick up more prizes from critics groups. The man may have to build a new wing to his house to hold all the awards still to come.
Meanwhile, Leos Carax wasn’t called back to Cannes by Thierry Fremaux, and he must be wondering what he has to do to get some of the Haneke Treatment. It’s Carax who should be throwing a hissy fit, since his astonishing Holy Motors should have won the Palme at the end of the day. It was, along with Reygadas’ Post Tenebras Lux, the competition film that marked out a new path for cinema’s future, and managed to completely revive the career of a director who was deemed by many to be dead in the water. To give nothing to Holy Motors seems like some kind of statement in itself, only slightly mitigated by throwing Reygadas the best director bone—maybe more than a bone, really, since the most divisive movie in Cannes looked like it would be completely ignored for the prizes. And to give nothing to Denis Lavant, the sui generis actor at the heart of Holy Motors, its Lon Chaney, Jr., is beyond reason and responsibility. If there was love, this feels like outright hate.
Meanwhile, yawn, Ken Loach takes home another Cannes (jury) prize, as if he needs one, this one for a movie I plan to never see: The Angels’ Share. More bad choices include two awards, which two too many, for Cristian Mungiu’s profoundly annoying drama, Beyond the Hills, which contrives characters’ silence and stupid decisions to propel the narrative. And for this, it wins best screenplay. Mungiu’s co-leads shared the actress prize, which must be a compliment for whispering your lines, and whispering them as flatly as possible. This from a jury composed of four actors.
It’s not the worst Cannes awards ever, since a far worse film than Amour known as The Tree of Life won the Palme last year. And Amour isn’t bad, and is a vast improvement on The White Ribbon. But it’s a safe set of awards, with the exception of Reygadas and perhaps for Matteo Garrone for his adventurous if overly schematic Reality. When the jury had the opportunity to support the dangerous in cinema, they preferred not to. No love for that.