Cannes 2019: A Preview

This year’s Cannes Film Festival gets underway next week with a host of familiar names vying to win the prestigious Palme d’Or. So what will be gracing the Croisette? Undoubtedly, the hottest title will be Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, his 1960s-set love-letter to cinema starring Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie, who plays real-life actress Sharon Tate, a tragic victim of the Manson family. 

Beyond Tarantino’s return, marking the 25th anniversary since he won the Palme for Pulp Fiction, there are a number of big-name auteurs taking part in this 72ndedition of the world’s most prestigious film festival. Opening proceedings is Jim Jarmusch, a Cannes regular whose last film Patersonplayed in competition. His latest is zombie comedy The Dead Don’t Die, featuring a glorious cast including Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tom Waits and Iggy Pop. The undead have never seemed so cool. 

With a number of past Palme winners jostling for attention in the competition, all eyes will be on A Hidden Life, the new film from Terrence Malick, who previously stormed Cannes with The Tree of Life. This latest in an historical biopic about a WW2 conscientious objector Franz Jägerstätter (played by August Diehl), though whether the famously reclusive Malick will make an appearance remains to be seen. The media-shy director is about the only filmmaker who is allowed to skip red carpet duties.

Britain’s Ken Loach and Belgium’s the Dardenne brothers – both two-time winners – will be aiming to become the first directors to ever take a third Palme home. Loach is back with Sorry We Missed You, a companion of sorts to I, Daniel Blake, looking at a family living hand-to-mouth in modern-day Britain. The Dardennes, meanwhile, return with Young Ahmed, a potentially incendiary-sounding piece about Muslim extremism, as a Belgian schoolboy plots to kill his teacher.

Other British filmmakers joining the festival include Dexter Fletcher, whose Elton John biopic Rocketmanwill play out of competition shortly before its UK release. Starring Taron Edgerton, who previously starred in Fletcher’s Eddie the Eagle, as the flamboyant pianist, it also features Jamie Bell as John’s long-time lyricist, Bernie Taupin. Also playing is Diego Maradona, Asif Kapadia’s follow-up to his Oscar-winning documentary Amy,who here takes on the brilliant but controversial Argentinean footballer. Danish director Nicolas Refn, who won Best Director in Cannes for Drive, can also be seen on the Croisette, this time with his first TV project, Too Young To Die, North of Hollywood, West of Hell. A look at the Los Angeles criminal underbelly, starring Miles Teller and Jena Malone, this Amazon-funded project will be screening the first two episodes. Between this and the Tarantino movie, L.A. is going to be very well represented on the French Riviera. 

James Mottram

Cannes Film Festival runs from 13-25 May. For more details, click here.

1. Still from
A Hidden Life.