Cannes 2015: Our picks of the Competition programme

It’s that time of year again when the enormous poster outside the grand Palais is unveiled and, for this year at least, the beautiful face of Ingrid Bergman will glance down at the red carpet, ready for the opening of the 68th edition of the most glamorous film showcase in the world, Cannes. Over ten days starting 13 May, Cannes will play guest to the screening of hundred of films as thousands of stars, journalists and industry moguls soak up the Cote d’Azur sun and sip champagne on the Croisette. For the fourth straight year, CineVue will be providing coverage of the festival, but what is most whetting the appetite? What wonders await? And what will be the reaction to a number of major European directors who are making their English language debuts this year?

Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos has shocked and amused audiences with a pair of dark and influential absurdist comedies, Dogtooth (2009) and Alps (2011). His English language debut, The Lobster, has a similarly crazy premise as a group of lonely singles must find a mate in a hotel or be turned into animals and sent into the woods. Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz lead a promising cast. Matteo Garrone, whose Gamorrah (2008) and Reality (2012) both bowed on the Croisette, returns with Tale of Tales, an Angela Carter-like retelling of a fairytale anthology collected by Neapolitan poet Giambattista Basile in the 17th century. Backed by a beguiling trailer, the Italian director will go head-to-head with compatriot Paolo Sorrentino, whose Youth needs to impress more than the frustrating This Must Be the Place (2011).

Norwegian Joachim Trier – whose Oslo, August 31 won him worldwide recognition – returns with Louder Than Bombs, a family drama starring Jesse Eisenberg, Gabriel Byrne and Isabelle Huppert. Mexican director Michel Franco, who similarly impressed two years ago with After Lucia, also debuts in English with Chronic, starring Tim Roth as a nurse dealing with the terminally ill. The US is, meanwhile, represented by Portland, Oregon’s favourite sons Gus Van Sant and Todd Haynes with The Sea of Trees, a Japan-set euthanasia drama starring Matthew McConaughey, and Carol, a Patricia Highsmith adaptation with Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. In the absence of British directors we could resort to claiming the Brit-produced Macbeth, starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard as Shakespeare’s power-hungry dysfunctional couple: Australian Julian Kurzel (Snowtown) directs. Meanwhile, Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan charts the adventures of a Sri Lankan freedom fighter in Paris while Chinese director Jia Zhangke returns with new film Mountains May Depart.

The midnight movies at Cannes can sometimes be an underwhelming dumping ground, but this year promises controversy with arch-provocateur Gaspar Noé raising more than a few eyebrows with his racy poster for Love. Perhaps an answer to persona non grata Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac (2013), Noé’s film is an attempt to give a more positive spin to the joys of sex. No less controversial, Amy Winehouse documentary Amy sees Asif Kapadia follow up his 2010 racing doc Senna. In the sidebars, Natalie Portman makes her feature debut behind the camera with A Tale of Love and Darkness and will be hoping to avoid the critical lambasting Ryan Gosling received last year with Lost River (2014). Finally, in Director’s Fortnight, Jeremy Saulnier follows up last year’s slow burn indie hit Blue Ruin with Green Room, starring Macon Blair and Patrick Stewart in a thriller about a punk band besieged by neo-Nazis in a remote locale.

The 68th Cannes Film Festival takes place from 13-24 May 2015. For more Cannes coverage, simply follow this link.

John Bleasdale | @drjonty

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