Festival in Cannes
Directed by Henry Jaglom. Starring Anouk Aimée, Maximilian Schell, Greta Scacchi, Peter Bogdanovich, Ron Silver, Zack Norman, Jenny Gabrielle, Alex Craig Mann. (2001, PG-13, 99 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., March 29, 2002
The intersection of Art and Commerce is sorely in need of a signal light, or, at the very least, some sort of crosswalk. Treacherous and crowded, there's no better place to view a cinematic hit and run than at the rightfully legendary Festival de Cannes, that star-studded feeding frenzy on the French Riviera that eclipses all other film festivals with its heady mix of wheeling, dealing, and mega-star wattage. Jaglom (Someone to Love) would seem the ideal filmmaker to capture the annual event for filmic posterity -- he's long been a Hollywood fringe dweller, spurning the studios and mainstream recognition, and turning out film after film constructed around bare-bones scripts and fleshed out with improvisational techniques. His love of and penchant for focusing on women's perspectives has made Jaglom even more of an anomaly in a medium so often dominated by male viewpoints, and Festival in Cannes deviates little from his established habits. Shot in Cannes during the 1999 event, Festival is typical of Jaglom's style: His loose, hand-held camera follows a half-dozen or so interrelated characters as they move through the teeming festival crowds and occasionally intersect with one another. There's Aimée and Schell as a pair of former lovers, she a faded French film star and he a grizzled, still-randy director. Aimée's character is being courted by an American actress played by Scacchi, who wants her to star in her earnest directorial debut, as well as by Ron Silver's hotshot Hollywood producer, who needs her to sign on for a small but lucrative part in a new Tom Hanks film to be helmed by Peter Bogdanovich's director Milo. Newcomer Jenny Gabrielle is Blue, the lead in an independent film that's about to launch her career as a major star; she's being courted by Silver's assistant Barry (Mann), who in turn is doing battle with weaselly wannabe Caz (Norman) for the attentions of Aimée. This somewhat tangled web of intrapersonal connections comes off, in Jaglom's hands, as decidedly realistic -- the film has the ring of authenticity all over it, thanks in large part to the many layers of festival chatter that act as background ambience -- but ultimately it's a dull affair. Like the buzzy festival vibe it so fully captures, Jaglom's film starts off fresh and exhilarating but quickly becomes tiring, padded as it is with endless scenes of the Cannes seaside, strolling couples, crowd and paparazzi shots, and flip fest chatter so veracious you'll yawn in recognition. Jaglom's point -- that art suffers at the paws of commerce -- is hardly news, nor is he subtle in his arguments, forcing Scacchi to bend to the will (romantic and otherwise) of Silver's wolf in shark's clothing, and having Schell and Aimée's relationship battered by the ever-present younger woman. Jaglom even tosses in William Shatner and Faye Dunaway in throwaway cameos, but Festival in Cannes, for all its eager indictment of the shallow end of the cinematic pool, remains little more than a briefly fascinating curiosity, a travelogue for those of us who can't actually attend (and now would not wish to).