“Blue Is the Warmest Colour,” a graphic lesbian love story directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where Steven Spielberg headed the jury.
The runner-up Grand Prix went to Joel Coen and Ethan Coen’s “Inside Llewyn Davis,” with Justin Timberlake. And in the best-actor category, Michael Douglas -- who played the eccentric pianist Liberace in Steven Soderbergh’s “Behind the Candelabra” -- lost out to Bruce Dern, the wandering old man in Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska.”
Critics adored the winning movie, known in French as “La Vie D’Adele -- Chapitre 1 & 2.” Three hours long, the film is about a 15-year-old girl whose life is transformed when she meets a young woman with short blue hair. Spielberg, announcing the Palme d’Or winner on stage at the closing ceremony, said it also went to actresses Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos.
Stepping up to the microphone, the film’s French-Tunisian director dedicated his prize “to the great youth of France, who I met during the lengthy shoot, and who taught me a great deal about the spirit of freedom and togetherness.”
He also dedicated it to the rebellious youth of Tunisia -- instigators of the Arab Spring -- “for their aspiration to live freely, express themselves freely, and love freely.”
Founded in 1946 in the French Riviera resort, Cannes is the world’s leading film festival. Orson Welles, Luis Bunuel, and Ingmar Bergman were early winners. The festival is both a venue for splashy Hollywood-movie premieres and a springboard for low-budget international titles; 4,000 journalists cover it.
The best-actress award went to France’s Berenice Bejo (the dancing ingenue in “The Artist”) for her role as a reality-bitten divorcee in Asghar Farhadi’s “The Past.” Set in the Paris suburbs, the film contrasts with Farhadi’s previous work, Oscar-winning “A Separation,” which took place in Tehran.
The evening’s other loser was Italy’s Paolo Sorrentino, whose “The Great Beauty” was a sarcastic Fellinian reverie set in 21st-century Rome -- a city of coke, cardinals, and Botox -- with actor Toni Servillo the world-weary protagonist.
As best director, the jury recognized Amat Escalante, director of the violent Mexican movie “Heli.”
“A Touch of Sin” by Zhangke Jia took the award for best script with its depiction of China.
Gay love appeared in more than one movie at this year’s festival -- even as tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Paris yesterday to protest the recent legalization of gay marriage.
Soderbergh’s “Candelabra” had Douglas, a.k.a. Liberace, and his much younger lover Scott Thorson (Matt Damon) kissing and sharing tubs and beds. “Stranger by the Lake,” a French movie directed by Alain Guiraudie, showed one man falling dangerously in love with another he met at a lakeside cruising spot; there was graphic sex there, too.
The festival started with a splashy red-carpet premiere for Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby,” which had received tepid reviews during its North American debut five days earlier.
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio took the opportunity to boast of the movie’s $51 million in opening-weekend box office sales. Hours later, he joined revelers at an exclusive party in a mega-tent that featured live performances by Bryan Ferry and Florence Welch (of Florence + the Machine).
Otherwise, Cannes this year offered a new kind of offscreen action. No sooner had director Sofia Coppola screened her movie about teenage burglars in Hollywood (“The Bling Ring”) than real-life robbers, as if on cue, started fanning out across the French Riviera.
One set of thieves stole an estimated 1 million euros ($1.3 million) in jewelry from a hotel safe in central Cannes. The gems from the house of Chopard were for stars to borrow and wear on the red carpet. Chopard also happens to be the designer of the Palme d’Or.
Days later, a 2 million euro diamond necklace, loaned to a wearer for a gala at the exclusive Hotel du Cap, vanished overnight from a guarded area of the hotel. Geneva-based jeweler De Grisogono issued a brief statement reporting the loss.
Muse highlights include Guy Collins and John Mariani on wine, Scott Reyburn and Frederik Balfour on the art market, Farah Nayeri on film and Gwen Ackerman on Israel art.