The 72nd Cannes Film Festival is underway, and so far, it’s been an enjoyable edition. Proceedings kicked off with Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die, a meta-comedy set as the Earth falls off its axis after too much fracking and the dead rise from their graves. Like a Jarmusch Greatest Hits album – the cast includes Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Iggy Pop, Tom Waits and a number of other regulars in his films – it also comes armed with an amusingly wry script. Jokes like Wu-Tang Clan member RZA working for a delivery service called ‘WU-PS’ set the tone. Perhaps the film sags a little in the final third, but this is still one of Jarmusch’s most accessible films to date.
A real surprise in Director’s Fortnight was Deerskin by musician-turned-filmmaker Quentin Dupieux, who previously made the offbeat story about a killer tyre, Rubber. Deerskin is just as delightfully odd, with The Artist star Jean Dujardin playing a loner who arrives in an isolated town in the French Pyrenees after purchasing a deerskin jacket – an item of clothing that he’s obsessed by. He’s even going around paying others to remove their jackets and never wear them again, because he wants to be the only jacket-wearer in town. Sounds weird, and it is, but it’s extremely amusing. And at 77 minutes, just the perfect length in a festival full of films clocking in at over two hours.
Another strong French candidate, this time playing in competition, was Les Misérables, a contemporary drama set in the Paris projects that draws from the spirit, if not the plot, of Victor Hugo’s classic novel. Directed by Ladj Ly, this tale inspired by the Paris riots of 2005 actually begins with France winning the World Cup, but the good mood in the city doesn’t last for much longer, as racial tensions simmer, stirred up by corrupt cops. It’s nothing radical – indeed, it feels like a follow-up to the great La Haine made back in 1995 – but it’s viscerally filmed, with pulsating performances. A real powder-keg of a movie.
Thursday night also saw the unveiling of Ken Loach’s Sorry Me Missed You, his latest film with his regular screenwriter Paul Laverty. Like a companion piece to his 2016 Palme d’Or winner I, Daniel Blake, this stars Kris Hitchen and Debbie Honeywood as the Turners, parents of a family in Newcastle; he’s just started working for a delivery company while she’s a care assistant. Both are struggling with the crushing realities of their work – impossible targets, unforgiving bosses. It’s utterly heartbreaking to watch, but as ever enlivened by Loach and Laverty’s strong sense of earthy humour.
The Cannes Film Festival runs until 25 May.