Cannes, Day 4: Lawless, The Hunt and the lesser Cronenberg

Saturday May 19th 2012

Cannes critics can be a bit sniffy about stuff they perceive as ‘below the festival’. Last year, Drive proved a little too Hollywood for some of them; this year, Lawless is causing the upset. With its A-list cast and linear narrative (lame!), John Hillcoat’s first film since 2009’s lacklustre The Road has someway to go to earn the respect of its worthier, European-er peers. It largely gets there.

I still wish he’d go back to his formative goofy comic roles, but Shia LaBoeuf is undeniably engaging as the youngest of the three Bondurant brothers — a set of have-a-go bootleggers in Prohibition-era Virginia. Tom Hardy plays oldest brother Forrest, and manages to aptly convey most of his dialogue through the use of carefully nuanced grunts. And Guy Pearce! I haven’t been this surprised by him since he signed on for Bedtime Stories.

After more than two hours of continuous bootlegging hijinks there’s no denying it’s a one-note film, but what a lovely note it is.

One of the more talked-about films in Cannes’s secondary Un Certain Regard strand is Antiviral, the directorial debut of a young filmmaker named Brandon Cronenberg. You may already be familiar with his dad, who has some film or other in the main competition.

Antiviral is primarily concerned with — get ready for a RADICAL SUBJECT MATTER — society’s obsession with celebrity, and imagines a not-too-distant future in which fans pay large sums of money to voluntarily contract the illnesses of their celebrity idols. If you’ve ever bought a copy of OK! Magazine, he’s talking about you here.

There’s not much to the film beyond that premise, so if the notion that celebrity obsession might be unhealthy isn’t enough to blow your mind wide open, this might not be the film for you. Especially given that Brandon’s cunning plan to step out of his father’s shadow is basically to plagiarise every movie he’s ever made. In short, this should tell you everything you need to know:

As the day drew to a close and the sun set over the Côte d’Azur, I decided there could be no better way to end the day than by queuing for two hours for the new Thomas Vinterberg movie The Hunt, only to not get in. And that’s exactly what I did.