The rain-soaked first half of the 66th Cannes International Film Festival generated plenty of headlines, including news of a million-dollar jewelry heist and gunshots fired during a live TV show where Christoph Waltz was among the guests. (Fortunately, no one was injured and the shooter was quickly detained.) As for the movies themselves, there was dealmaking aplenty: Warner Bros. acquired domestic rights to Ryan Gosling's directing debut, the thriller How to Catch a Monster; Antonio Banderas signed on to star in the Chilean-miner drama The 33; and The Weinstein Company picked up both the World War II drama Suite Française, starring Michelle Williams, and the Stephen Frears drama Philomena, with Judi Dench.
EW critic Owen Gleiberman was on the scene; here's his take on the movies he's seen so far.
The first movie directed by Iran's Asghar Farhadi since 2011's Oscar-winning A Separation confirms that he's a modern master. Once again he's made a tale of domestic turmoil that carries the charged tension of a thriller. Bérénice Bejo (The Artist) plays Marie, a Frenchwoman living in a Paris suburb, and Ali Mosaffa is her estranged Iranian husband, who arrives from Tehran so that they can get a divorce. The question of whether emails from an adulterous affair were secretly forwarded and, if so, received takes on the suspenseful quality of a CIA operation gone wrong. The way the plot keeps churning and turning makes you feel like a detective piecing together the inner meaning of what you're seeing, as the past reasserts its hold on the present.
THE BLING RING
Sofia Coppola's latest is an acerbically witty and open-eyed look at American youth culture gone mad. The film tells the true story of a pack of teenagers in L.A. who broke into the homes of their celebrity idols (Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan) to steal clothes, shoes, jewelry, and whatever else caught their fancy. What they're doing, basically, is shopping, but the film takes starstruck consumer-culture depravity to a whole new level. The Bling Ring has a lightly scandalous yet never mocking tone, and Emma Watson, playing a real mean girl, does a remarkable job of demonstrating that glassy-eyed insensitivity doesn't have to be stupid.
YOUNG & BEAUTIFUL
François Ozon's fascinating film centers on Isabelle (Marine Vacth), who is your basic blasé 17-year-old Parisian bourgeois princess until she starts to hire herself out as a high-end prostitute. Vacth looks like a Euro-pouty fashion model, but she makes Isabelle wary and intriguing. Ozon refrains from explaining her, and that feels right.
This '70s-set tale of New York cops and crime evokes the brilliantly ramshackle, down-and-dirty spirit of Sidney Lumet, which French director Guillaume Canet (Tell No One) blends with his own inquisitive heart. In his best role in years, Clive Owen is a hard case just out of prison, and Billy Crudup is his straight-arrow cop brother. The film creates a panorama of broken people trying to put themselves back together.
INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS
The Coen brothers' lovingly detailed deep-dish portrait of the early-'60s Greenwich Village folk scene is also one of their deeply cynical tall tales, á la Barton Fink. Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) has made several albums, but he can't break out of the coffeehouse ghetto. Isaac, who's like Lenny Bruce as a hipster rabbinical student, gives Llewyn an earnest, solid presence, but he's playing a character so disagreeable that at a certain point you think: When did this go from being a movie about folk musicians to an early parable of borderline personality disorder?