The Cannes Palme d’Or: Who Won and Who Was Robbed

"Winter Sleep" wins Palme d'Or
Nuri Bilge Ceylan wins the Palme d'Or at the 67th Cannes Film Festival on May 24, 2014. Mustafa Yalcin—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The 3hr.16min. Turkish drama 'Winter Sleep' took the top prize in a festival short on masterpieces and pizazz

No startling surprises, no unarguable triumphs. The 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival offered the predictable pleasure of worthy work rewarded tonight, as Jury President Jane Campion announced that Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Winter Sleep had won Cannes’ highest prize, the Palme d’Or.

Over its 3 hour, 16 minute duration, Winter Sleep probes the psychology of a Turkish landowner confronting crises from his young wife, his sister and his aggrieved tenants. Playing on the second full day of the 11-day Festival, the movie was immediately touted as a Palme front-runner. Winter Sleep fulfilled its promise when presenters Quentin Tarantino and Uma Thurman, in town for the 20th anniversary of the Palme d’Or champ Pulp Fiction, presented Ceylan with tonight’s biggest award.

(READ: Corliss’s review of the Cannes winner Winter Sleep)

Best Actor went to Timothy Spall for his portrayal of the painter J.M.W. Turner in the Mike Leigh bio-pic Mr. Turner. In a minor upset, Julianne Moore took Best Actress for her fearless comic turn as an aging actress in David Cronenberg’s hate letter to Hollywood, Maps to the Stars. Bennett Miller was named Best Director for Foxcatcher, the true-crime tale of two Olympic wrestlers (Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo) and their troubled patron (Steve Carell in a chilling turn as zillionaire John du Pont).

The Grand Jury Prize — second place — was awarded to the Italian Alice Rohrwacher for The Wonders, the tender tale of a beekeeeper and his four precocious children. The portentous, politically prickly Russian drama Leviathan reeved the Screenplay award. The silver-medal Jury Prize was shared by baby-faced Xavier Dolan, 25, for his convulsive, compelling family portrait Mommy, and perpetual enfant terrible Jean-Luc Godard, 83, whose Adieu au langage addressed the concerns of a man, a woman and a god — in 3-D. Godard was not present at the ceremony.

The full list of the Campion Jury winners:

Palme d’Or: Winter Sleep, directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Grand Prize: Le Meraviglie (The Wonders), Alice Rohrwacher

Best Director: Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher

Jury Prize: Mommy, Xavier Dolan, and Adieu au langage, Jean-Luc Godard

Best Screenplay: Andrey Zvyagintsev, Oleg Negin, Leviathan

Best Actress: Julianne Moore, Maps To The Stars

Best Actor: Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner

Ceylan’s stately accession to the Golden Palm began 11 years ago with a Grand Jury Prize for Uzak (Distant), followed by the Critics’ Prize for Climates in 2006, Best Director for Three Monkeys in 2008 and another Grand Jury Prize in 2011 for his police non-thriller Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. At 55, the presumptive heir is now le roi de Cannes.

In his acceptance speech, Ceylan noted that “This year is the 100th year of Turkish cinema, and it’s a good coincidence I think. I want to dedicate the prize to the young people of Turkey,” and added, in an allusion to the 11 deaths in antigovernment protests that began in May 2013, “especially those who lost their lives during the last year.”

Campion, the Australian filmmaker whose The Piano shared the Palme d’Or with Chen Kaige’s Farewell My Concubine in 1993, read out the winners. Looking like Meryl Streep’s more severe sister, and managing to mispronounce the names of most of the jurors with whom she had spent that past 11 days, Campion received an affectionate kiss from Festival President Gilles Jacob, retiring at 83 after 38 years at the Festival. Jacob told her, “Jane you know what you mean to me.”

It was a night for big emotions. Dolan, the French-Canadian wonder boy who wrote, directed and starred in his first film, I Killed My Mother, at 19, paid tearful tribute to Campion, saying, “Few films changed my life in the way that your Piano did,” and speaking to “people of my generation: There are no limits to our ambitions excerpt the ones we build for ourselves.” More tears.

(READ: Mary Corliss’s review of Xavier Dolan’s Mommy)

Spall gave the longest, most passionate and entertaining speech. Pulling out his cellphone to read a speech he had written on the flight back to Cannes, he began reading his thanks but was interrupted by a beep: “Oh, I got voicemail.” He spoke of his leukemia treatment at the same time Leigh was winning the 1996 Palme d’Or for Secrets & Lies. Briefly, overcome, he said, “Oh, sorry, I’m crying. Sentimental old fool.” When the audience applauded, he murmured, “Thank you. The irony of your applause is not lost on me.” Spall spilled out his gratitude to his director, the cast and crew, ending, “Most of all I just thank God that I’m still here and alive.”

(READ: Richard Corliss’s review of Mr. Turner)

In a year with eight winning films chosen among only 18 contenders in the official competition, not many worthy works got slighted. Two we’re sorry for: the Argentine comedy Wild Tales, which brought satiric intelligence and fun of the highest order to this mostly mopey fortnight; and Two Days, One Night from directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, two-time winners of the Palme d’Or. Their thoughtful drama featuring a spectacularly solid performance by Marion Cotillard — who still has not won any official award at the Festival she so frequently graces. They wuz robbed.

(READ: Mary Corliss’s reviews of Wild Tales and Two Days, One Night)

In prizes awarded by other juries, the first-film Caméra d’Or award went to Party Girl (directed by Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis), the rambling account of a former dancer in blowsy middle age. Leidi, directed by Simón Mesa Soto, took the Short Film Palme, with special mention to Clément Trehin-Lalanne’s Aïssa and Hallvar Witzo’s Ja Vi Elsker. May we be citing these filmmakers’ feature films in Cannes coverage in future years.

So we bid adieu, or rather au revoir, to our 41st visit to this Riviera festival. As we say each year, with fingers crossed, à l’année prochaine! See you next Cannes.

TIME movies

The Cannes Countdown: Six Contenders for Major Awards

IFC Films

Some sensational actresses, including Marion Cotillard, Julianne Moore and Juliette Binoche, vie for top awards at the world's biggest film festival

Cannes chugs to its conclusion, like a Riviera train overfreighted with international stars and world-class directors. They are all anxiously awaiting the Saturday closing ceremony, at which a jury headed by filmmaker Jane Campion will bestow its awards, above all the coveted Palme d’Or for best picture. Last year that prize went to the sexy French drama Blue Is the Warmest Color. This year — who knows? Among the 18 films in competition, some have staked strong claims, including two bio-pics — Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner and Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher — and Xavier Dolan’s turbulent family psychodrama Mommy.

We have covered those films in previous Cannes reports, and will address one more contender, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Winter Sleep, before tomorrow’s prize show. Below are short appraisals of six important movies with a prayer for the Palme and a good chance to reach U.S. theaters.

TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT. Marion Cotillard has earned an Oscar, as Edith Piaf in La vie en rose in 2008, but never a Cannes Best Actress award. In her fourth consecutive year at the Festival (after Midnight in Paris, Rust & Bone and The Immigrant), the luminous star insinuates herself convincingly into the role of a working-class wife and mother in this excellent effort from Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. Two-time Palme d’Or winners for Rosetta (1999) and L’enfant (2005), the Belgian brothers cast Cotillard as Sandra, on leave for depression from her job in a Seraing solar-panel factory. Learning she is to be laid off after a vote of her coworkers, Sandra must spend the weekend petitioning them to change their minds before a Monday re-vote and let her stay, which means each employee would forfeit a 1000-Euro bonus.

The Dardennes’ original conception was to pit a below-average worker against the wavering consciences of her peers. But their on-screen Sandra is just a decent woman out of work and luck. Canvasing her 14 colleagues in a secular Stations of the Cross, she lays out her case to each one (in scenes shot in one long take) and gets different, often poignant reasons for their yes or a no. This race-against-time scenario lends an urgency to the socialist maxim, “From each according to his ability, to each according to her need,” that is at the heart of the Dardennes’ concern. This might be a provocative film with any leading lady. With Cotillard — looking fatigued yet fabulous in tank tops and jeans as Sandra makes her desperate rounds — it is also an actor’s triumph. —M.C.

(READ: Mary Corliss on the Dardennes’ The Kid on the Bike)

THE SEARCH. In any festival, the most eagerly anticipated film often turns out to be the most disappointing. That is the fate of this 2½hr. super-serious war-and-remembrance film from Michel Hazanavicius, whose blithe wordless comedy The Artist premiered at Cannes two years ago and won Academy Awards for best picture, writer, director and leading actor. Set in a Chechnya devastated by war, and loosely based on the 1948 Fred Zinnemann film of the same title, The Search puts an NGO dogooder (the excellent Bérénice Bejo) in touch with a Muslim Chechen child (Abdul Khalim Mamutsiev) traumatized by seeing his parents slaughtered by Russian soldiers. Learning, hugging and copious finger-pointing ensue, not least in the film’s depiction of a young soldier (Maxim Emelianov) so brutalized by his training, in Full Metal Jacket style, that he is turned into a soulless killer.

Hazanavicius says he made the film “to oppose the absurd theory according to which all Chechens are terrorists.” That is absurd. Not all Chechens, or Afghans or Somalis, are terrorists. But some are, and their actions brought the Russian army into Chechnya. Another discredited theory is that the mediocre, muddled followup to any Oscar-winning film deserves a choice spot in the Cannes competition. —R.C.

(READ: Mary Corliss’s review of Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist)

WILD TALES. “Pasternak,” the first of six stories in Argentine writer-director Damián Szifron’s omnibus comedy, is the shortest. The people on a flight slowly realize that they all knew a man named Gabriel Pasternak, that they in some way wronged him and that he secretly paid for their tickets. Finally they learn that Pasternak has taken over the cockpit and is about to crash the plane.

Beginning with this deliciously sour anecdote — the only terrorist-hijacking story we know of that’s played for comedy — Szifron weaves a tapestry of outrageous revenge in fables set in a roadhouse diner (“The Rats”), on the open highway (“Road to Hell”), in a DMV office (“Bombina”), among the corrupt members of a rich family (“The Bill”) and at a wedding ceremony where the bride learns her new husband has had affair with one of the wedding guests (“Till Death Do Us Part”). Except for “The Bill,” they are smart, tart, beautifully performed mini-epics of grievance escalating to a kind of sanctified madness. Wild Tales deserves Cannes’ Screenplay prize, and your delighted patronage when Sony Pictures Classics opens this in the U.S. —M.C.

MAPS TO THE STARS. Obscene misanthropy enlivens this inside-Hollywood comedy written by Bruce Wagner and directed by Canada’s David Cronenberg, more than 40 years into his film excavations of the human body as its own deadly parasite (Rabid, The Fly, Naked Lunch). Diseases of the heart and spirit ravage the entire movie business, most prominently a guru-masseur (John Cusack), his stage-moth wife (Olivia Williams) and their two kids — one a obnoxious TV moppet crashing into puberty (Evan Bird), the other a refugee from the loony bin (Mia Wasikowska).

In addition to ghosts, incest, strangulation and a tantric three-way, the movie zings with some of the raunchiest, most knowing dialogue since the almighty Heathers a quarter-century ago. (One of the milder exchanges: a Bieber-like teen star, played with regal ennui by Justin Kelly, says he can sell his excrement for $3,000 a poop, in part because “It’s got rice in it from Nobu.” And when he has diarrhea, it’s like “summer clearance.”) Oddly, Cronenberg’s staging of this delirious material is a little pokey, but worth sitting through for the sheer transgressive jolt — and for Julianne Moore’s fearless, pitch-perfect performance as an aging actress trying for one last great part. Moore might deserve the Best Actress award but, given the film’s corrosive raillery, won’t get it. —R.C.

(FIND: David Cronenberg’s The Fly on the all-TIME Top 25 Horror Movies list)

THE CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA. Call it All About Eve in the Swiss Alps. In that Joseph Mankiewicz Oscar-winner, Bette Davis was the aging actress, Anne Baxter the ingenue avid to steal her star luster. In Olivier Assayas’s update, Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche) is the modern Davis: a middle-aged actress who won early fame as the scheming young Sigrid in the play Maloja Snake, and who is now asked to take the role of Helena, the older victim, in that play’s revival. Sigrid is to be played by Jo Ann Ellis (Chloë Grace Moretz), a teen hottie with a scandalous rep. To prepare for a part that forces her to acknowledge her vanished youth, Maria rehearses with her assistant Val (Kristen Stewart). But which young woman is Eve? Both Val and Jo Ann carry themselves with a precocious poise that in Maria has curdled into the self-doubt. She knows that stars shine brightest when they are new.

The Julianne Moore character in Maps to the Stars faced a similar challenge: she is up for a movie role once played by her dead mother. The threat to Maria is the shroud of an aging actress — the crow lines and thickening waist that Binoche, 50, wears as badges of long, meritorious movie service. Last appearing for Assayas in the lovely Summer House, an international art-house hit, she adroitly handles the competition and collaboration of Twilight star Stewart, whose crafty lack of affect shows to fine advantage in what may be her most complex screen role. Moretz, at 17 segueing from child roles, has just a few scenes to prove Jo Ann is wiser than her tabloid escapades would indicate. Another Cannes entry that showcases for excellent actresses, Sils Maria needs a bit more tension in its telling — and a change of its confounding title. —M.C.

(READ: TIME’s 1950 review of All About Eve by subscribing to the magazine)

LEVIATHAN. This 2hr.21min. drama by Andrey Zvyagintsev, whose The Return took the top prize 11 years ago at the Venice Film Festival, has been short-listed by some critics for this year’s Palme d’Or. It’s certainly long, bleak and politically resonant enough to win official approval. Kolya (Alexey Serebryakov), a dour handyman, has been fighting to keep his seaside property that the venal mayor (Roman Madyanov) has legally seized. In this battle he has enlisted an old Army buddy (Vladimir Vdovitchenkov), now a lawyer, who tries to buck the long odds but is more interested in Kolya’s wife (Elena Lyadova).

Scenes of the frightful price that this Job-like character must pay are kept off-screen; this is, among other things, a murder mystery in which viewers must infer whodunit. But the Mr. Big perpetrator is the post-Soviet system, rewarding corruption and punishing the innocent — those poor slobs who, in a familiar Russian stereotype, smoke and drink way too much. In this middling-quality dirge, the one moment of acerbic humor comes at a shooting party, when the host brings out framed portraits of former Soviet leaders, from Stalin to Gorbachev, for target practice. “Got any more current ones?” somebody asks. The reply: “Too early. Not enough historical perspective.” —R.C.

TIME movies

REVIEW: Mommy at Cannes: The One We’ve Been Waiting For

Festival de Cannes

French-Canadian infant terrible Xavier Dolan grows up, with a powerful film about the ferocity of mother love

Artists are different from the rest of us: they make their pain public. Most people conceal their grievances under an official smile, fearful that the airing of any animosities will force confrontations and result in emotional defeat. Aspiring artists don’t care what their parents or peers think. They channel their resentments into a semiautobiographical first novel — or, in Xavier Dolan’s case, a first film.

Made when he was 19, with Dolan in the lead role, and detailing the betrayal he felt when his mother got exasperated by his antics and sent him off to a boarding school, the movie bore the ultimate Oedipal revenge title: I Killed My Mother. It fairly burst with teen trauma, and with the unassimilated visual influences of such auteurs of romantic angst as Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Wong Kar-wai. In its world premiere in the Directors’ Fortnight program at Cannes in 2009, the film won several awards, immediately establishing Dolan as the enfant terrible of French Canadian cinema. Tomorrow, the world.

Or rather, today. At a still-precocious 25, the former Montreal child star takes a more mature but endlessly provocative and exhilarating look at the same relationship in Mommy. In a somnolent Cannes season of too many disappointments from major directors and a tepid level of ambition, Mommy is precisely the electroshock jolt the festival needed. Like Blue Is the Warmest Color, which pleasurably startled audiences on its way to winning the Palme d’Or, Dolan’s film is intimate, emotionally choleric, sensational and a bit loo long (at 2 hours and 20 minutes). But its excesses are part of, at the heart of, its appeal. Beginning with a car crash and accelerating from there, Mommy administers primal therapy to its viewers and perhaps to Dolan himself.

As in I Killed My Mother, the embattled mom is played by Anne Dorval. Suzanne Clément, a sympathetic teacher in the earlier film, takes a similar role here. The Dolan surrogate, the charming, troubled teen, is brilliantly assumed by Antoine Olivier Piton. This time, though, the viewpoint is reversed. Never condemning the son for his explosions, Dolan portrays the mother as a boundless fountain of tough love. She is Mommy dearest, without the twisted Joan Crawford irony. “Back in the days of I Killed My Mother,” Dolan says in the press notes, “I felt like I wanted to punish my mom. [But] through Mommy, I’m now seeking her revenge. Don’t ask.”

Widowed for three years, Diane “Die” Després (Dorval) cleans houses and occasionally translates children’s books. Her 15-year-old son Steve (Piton), afflicted with ADHD and given to violent outbursts, has started a fire in the school he’s been assigned to, causing the burning of another young inmate. Now Diane is to be Steve’s caregiver and teacher, while he would much rather be skateboarding or deliriously wheeling a shopping cart in traffic. Their verbal battles — in a raw Quebec patois that necessitated showing this French-language film with French subtitles — would singe the ears of the bickering couple in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? But at heart there is love: in Steve’s buying Diane a necklace with the word MOMMY, and in Diane’s indefatigable championing of her son.

They get unexpected help from their neighbor Kyla (Clément), a high-school teacher on leave for depression, who agrees to tutor the boy. She and Diane get along like loving sisters, especially when they open the box wine and dissolve helplessly into giggles. But Steve, who has inchoate dreams of going to the Juilliard School, hates the idea of sitting still for an education, testing Kyla with rude taunts. When he rips off her own necklace, she wrestles him to the floor and, her nose to his, fiercely lays down the law. His response is that of a frightened child or puppy: he wets himself.

Missing his late father, and trying to be the man of his house the blond, good-looking Steve naturally resents the lonely lawyer Paul (Patrick Huard) whom Diane befriends in hopes he can ease Steve’s legal problems. In fact, Steve bubbles with an adolescent sexual tension that keeps threatening to boil over into transgression. But in a film whose only two females are maternal figures, the prime, primal theme is the love everyone needs, not the sex everyone wants. “I’m afraid you’ll stop loving me,” Steve tells Diane. She replies with a mother’s melancholy truth: “What’s gonna happen is I’m gonna be loving you more and more, and you’ll be loving me less and less. That’s just the natural way of life.”

Set in “a fictional Canadian future,” Mommy is a film about right now and always, about any family’s bonds and how the members fight to strengthen or break them. Dolan encases the story of Steve and Diane in a nearly nonstop playlist of oldies — chosen, the director imagines, by Steve’s dead father — featuring Sarah MacLachlan, Céline Dion and, in a crucial scene set in a karaoke bar, Andrea Bocelli.

Dolan and cinematographer André Turpin chose an unusual screen ratio. Instead of wide screen they went for narrow screen, like a vertical iPhone shot, perfect for to capture the length of a body or the anguish on a face, and to dramatize operatic feelings in a narrow field. In only two sequences does the image expand to the full screen, when Steve or Diane imagines life without social or spatial confines — until the sides of the image start closing, like prison walls around a convict’s dreams.

There’s a chance the Cannes jury, headed by filmmaker Jane Campion, will share the enthusiasm of the early critics and award Mommy the Palme d’Or. That would make Dolan the youngest director to take the Festival’s top prize — one year younger than Steve Soderbergh when he won for sex, lies and videotape in 1989. Dorval, Piton and Clément would be equally worthy of individual or ensemble acting awards, so intensely committed are they to the film’s combustible story and characters.

But prizes are irrelevant to a film of suffocating power and surprising warmth. Stripping himself of his stylistic borrowings from other directors, Dolan has found his own urgent voice and visual style. Mommy doesn’t aim for classical grandeur. Instead, it bursts through the screen with the rough vitality of real people, who love not wisely but too well.

TIME movies

Sports at Cannes: Wrestling with Foxcatcher, Scoring With Red Army

Steve Carell and Channing Tatum star in Foxcatcher, a strange, distant story of an Olympic wrestler and his patron, while in Red Army, Slava Fetisov radiates star quality on and off the ice


Wrestling is the most solitary and elemental of sports: one man grappling another in intimate combat. Ice hockey, meanwhile, is pure teamwork, especially as played by the Red Army team in its dominant decades before the collapse of the Soviet Union. It follows that Foxcatcher, about a wrestler, his brother and their coach, is an investigation of men less comfortable in speaking than in expressing themselves through physical activity that can turn violent — and that the documentary Red Army, focusing on defenseman Viacheslav “Slava” Fetisov, brims with camaraderie: high spirits and a few verbal high sticks.

Thanks to its star cast of Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo and its director Bennett Miller (Capote, Moneyball), Foxcatcher was among the most eagerly anticipated selection at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Red Army, from first-timer Gabe Polsky, is simply one of the best.


On Jan. 26, 1996, John Éleuthère du Pont, scion of the gunpowder and chemicals fortune, shot and killed the wrestler Dave Schultz. Du Pont, 57, ran a wrestling school called Team Foxcatcher at his Newtown Square, Pa., estate, where Dave, 36, served as a coach. Dave’s brother Mark, 35, also lived and practiced at the estate. They are the only two brothers in U.S. wrestling history to win both Olympic and World championships.

Why did John kill Dave, whom he had treated as a friend and close colleague? Du Pont’s friends were baffled by a gentle man’s heinous eruption. At John’s trial, neither the prosecution nor the defense provided a reason. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity but was convicted of third-degree murder, and died in 2010 in the Laurel Highlands State Correctional Facility in Somerset, Pa. He was 72.

(READ: Bennett Miller and Philip Seymour Hoffman on Capote)

Foxcatcher, from a screenplay by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman, also declines to spell out a rationale. As Miller said at today’s press conference, his directorial style “is not so much telling a story as observing a story.” The movie, which saves the true story’s famous, fatal act of violence for the climax, is a murder mystery in which the killer’s motive remains a mystery. That makes Foxcatcher, for all its closeups of the main trio, a chilly, distant view of an enigma festering into an atrocity.

Truman Capote, as captured in Miller’s first feature by Philip Seymour Hoffman, was profligately articulate. Billy Beane, the Oakland A’s General Manager played in Moneyball by Brad Pitt, communicated clearly in words, stats and caroming body English. The Foxcatcher men have no such eloquence; Bennett describes their mode of discourse as “repressed male noncommunication.” John du Pont (Carell) may have been bred to reticence; raising one’s voice on the Foxcatcher estate was simply not done. As for the Schultzes, they articulate their fury, grudges and superb skills in their sport.

(READ: Richard Corliss’s tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman)

A marvelous early scene shows Dave (Ruffalo) leading Mark (Tatum) in a warmup exercise — a series of embraces, pats, grips and flips that eventually draws blood — and all to make Dave a more formidable wrestler. Beautifully choreographed and performed, and revealing emotional vectors that the rest of the film withholds, the scene in the wrestling circle is equally a fraternal fight and a love match.

John (Carell) wants into that circle. An accomplished ornithologist who authored several academic studies on the birds of the South Pacific, he chafes in the imperious shadow of his mother (a wonderfully haughty Vanessa Redgrave) and the 32,000 trophies and ribbons she has amassed as an equestrienne and stable owner. John considers horses “dumb. They eat and shit. That’s all they do.” His mother’s take on wrestling: “A low sport.” Perhaps eager to compete in the sports arena, he founds Team Foxcatcher — his own stable, with manflesh replacing horseflesh — and collects wrestlers dependent on his largesse. (Wrestling and boxing are the only two Olympic sports requiring amateur standing of its participants. The athletes must take side jobs or find a patron.)

(READ: The inside-baseball dish on Bennett Miller’s Moneyball)

“I have a deep love for the sport of wrestling,” John tells Mark when he flies the young man East for an interview. Dave, with a wife (Sienna Miller) and young child, wants to stay put; and Mark feels stranded without his guide and sparring partner. But John dangles this promise: “Without your brother you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.” The movie portrays a rivalry between John and Dave, to be Mark’s mentors. Dave had played that role since he and his brothers were the children of a fractured family. Dave eventually brings his family to Foxcatcher, where he trains other wrestlers and, in the process, wrests from John the role of father figure.

Tatum’s Mark is a gentle galoot, so lacking in introspection that he seems not to understand his resentment as being John’s pawn; if he had taken revenge on his host, the killing would be as understandable as John’s shooting of Dave. And Ruffalo is fine as the more gregarious Schultz. Carell gives the big performance — in startle quotient, not in sweeping gestures or fuming arias, which he avoids.

(READ: Steven James Snyder on Channing Tatum in Magic Mike)

The nice-guy correspondent for The Daily Show, who graduated to star comedy roles in Evan Almighty and The 40 Year Old Virgin, and as the voice of Gru in the Despicable Me animated franchise, Carell has a melancholy suitable for lovable losers and, here, a lonely aristocrat. His delicate, creepy work occasionally obscured by a large prosthetic nose, he plays John as gray and graceless, an inert entity. John has repressed so many of his family anxieties, as well as his urges to watch muscular men wrestle for his pleasure, that he is nearly dead, emotionally, by the middle of the movie. Killing Mark may be the one way John has to prove he’s still alive.

Really, though, we have to guess at most of this, because Foxcatcher is almost as withholding as its characters. True to his directorial creed, Miller has acutely observed the collision of its three men’s temperaments. It remains for the viewer to tell, or guess at, the full story. —R.C.


More than any form of filmmaking, the documentary demands star quality — a charismatic force at its center to drive home the political or human message. Polsky, director of Red Army, found his star in Slava Fetisov, part of the legendary Green Line of the U.S.S.R. ice hockey team. During his 13 seasons, the Red Army squad won seven World Championships (out of a possible 10) and two Olympic gold medals, losing only in 1980 to the U.S. team in the “Miracle on Ice” semifinal game. Defying the Soviet hierarchy, he left Russia for North American to play for the National Hockey League, spurring an exodus of other Soviet and European stars to the NHL. Many of his fellow Russians joined him on the Detroit Red Wings, which in 1997 and 1998 won the Stanley Cup.

Those are just Fetisov’s statistics. The man is even more impressive: a dominant presence off the ice and in front of Polsky’s camera, whether declaring his political independence, misting up at the memory of his first coach or, when the mood strikes him, giving his director a middle-finger salute. At the evening screening of Red Army, Cannes artistic director Thierry Frémaux praised Fetisov as “this incredible actor, this character, this champion!” He is all of that in this exuberant, affecting film portrait, which could escape the niche of documentaries and become a popular attraction on the order of Searching for Sugar Man. The film has similar heart, humor and unbelievable-but-true narrative twists.

In the NHL, star players often skate freely toward the goal, a one-man show. In Soviet hockey, “The man with the puck is the servant of the other skaters.” Their coaches stressed teamwork, as developed in a decade of junior-league training, until the intricate weaving of the Green Line skaters approached the choreography of the Bolshoi Ballet or the chess mastery of Garry Kasparov. (One NHL announcer calls them “the Soviet Symphony.”) The long years of excruciating practice forged a comradeship, in the best sense, of Fetisov and his mates. Surviving the 1980 Lake Placid humiliation, and weathering disagreements that seemed like betrayals, the Green Liners were a band of brothers. Some of them reunited with Fetisov in the NHL years later, after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Fetisov, who speaks excellent English from his decade in North America, is still a Russian at heart. He returned there, at the urging of Vladimir Putin served as Minister of Sport from 2002 to 2008. Fetisov deflects some of Polsky’s questions by saying, “I’m a politician now.” As a Soviet skater, he was also a political and social force: he and his team lifted the U.S.S.R. at a time when the West was the best at everything but hockey. As one Russian commentator notes, “The story of hockey is the story of our country.”

Ice hockey is not America’s story, and at the moment Russia is not the most popular foreign power. But this playful, poignant film presents a human story that transcends decades, borders and ideologies. —M.C.

TIME Cannes Film Festival

The Wild West in the South of France

The Western, a treasured genre on life support in the new Hollywood, shows up in full regalia or in metaphorical disguise in four Cannes entries

The Cannes Film Festival has become a rescue home for lost movie genres. In our last post we discussed the return of the erotic drama, notably Mathieu Amalric’s The Blue Room. Today, it’s the Western. The backbone of American movies from the 1930s through the ’70s, the Western nearly disappeared as Hollywood traded in the historical past for the fantasy future, and six-shooters for light sabers.

Yes, Star Wars is a Western in space suits (actually, it’s a version of Akira Kurosawa’s “Eastern Western” The Hidden Fortress, inspired by many a Hollywood oater). And the superheroes of Marvel movies are often outsized outsiders with grudges: John Wayne types who save the world instead of a stagecoach. But real Westerns, set in 19th-century pioneer days as wagon wheels dig ruts into the unforgiving plains, are hard to find — unless you come to this year’s Cannes and find two playing on the same day, and a couple of other films that look like Westerns in modern or postmodern garb. The directors come from Denmark, Argentina, Australia and America, with Hollywood curmudgeon Tommy Lee Jones leading the pack.

(READ: Corliss on the Western — Its Long Life, Death and Rebirth)

Jones has played many a varmint; he directed himself as one in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, which premiered here in 2005 and won Jones a Best Actor award, while Guillermo Arriaga’s script took the Screenplay prize. He’s back as the star, director and co-adaptor of Glendon Swarthout’s novel The Homesman. Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank), a sturdy spinster in the Nebraska territories of the 1850s, agrees to transport three young women, deranged by the harsh pioneer life, to Iowa and the loving care of a minister’s wife (Meryl Streep). Putting a reverse spin on Horace Greeley’s dictum of manifest destiny, the motto here is “Go East, not-so-young woman.”

(READ: Corliss’s review of Tommy Lee Jones’ The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada)

She can’t do the job alone, and finds an unlikely partner in George Briggs (Jones), a seedy claim-jumper she finds dangling on horseback from the end of a lyncher’s rope. For cutting that rope, and $300 at the end of the journey, Briggs agrees to drive Cuddy’s cart and the three madwomen to a place where they may find rest and he his freedom. This unlikely pair — who have kin in the roles taken by Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen and Clint Eastwood and Shirley MacLaine in Two Mules for Sister Sara — form a workplace bond as they fight off an Indian incursion and tend to their pathetic charges, two catatonic and one believing herself to be possessed by demons.

Swarthout’s novels inspired movie Westerns with prime flinty stars: Randolph Scott in 7th Cavalry, Gary Cooper in They Came to Cordura and John Wayne in his final film, The Shootist. (Another Swarthout novel became the prototype Spring Break comedy Where the Boys Are.) The Homesman has been on the radar of American moviemakers ever since its publication in 1988; Paul Newman hoped to direct and star in a movie version, and playwright-actor Sam Shepard wanted to write one. What’s amazing and depressing is that few movies in the intervening quarter century centrally addressed the issues of women and their hardships in pioneer days; Kelly Reichardt’s indie Western Meek’s Cutoff is the only one that springs to mind. So it’s past time we had this film.

(READ: Mary Pols’ review of Meek’s Cutoff)

The Jones adaptation closely follows the book’s plot surprises (multiple hangings) and its theme of intertwined redemption and despair. His Homesman never takes flight into poetry, and doesn’t delve into the psychology of the three women (played by Mirando Otto, Sonja Richter and Streep’s daughter Grace Gummer); they are just worrisome cargo, wild animals in Mary Bee’s one-cart circus.

Even the prickly interdependence of the spinster and her mulish employee has less drama than the relationship of the two to the grim grandeur of their environment. Ace cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (Babel, Argo, The Wolf of Wall Street) wrings sprung-rhythm poetry from the New Mexico and Georgia settings that doubled for Nebraska and Iowa. The land and the life were so harsh, one wonders that more men and women, when their golden dreams turned to nightmares, didn’t forsake the way West and head back East, either raving mad or seeking the sane comfort of civilization.

The grim tropes of the classic Western infused two other movies that received their world premieres this Cannes weekend. David Michôd’s The Rover relocates the genre’s elemental animosities to the desolate Australian outback, and the past to the near-future, “10 years after the Collapse,” when (according to Michôd’s scenario) Australia is “a resource-rich Third World power.” Mining has drawn men there — tough men, their ethics defined by their appetites. These Westerns ride in trucks, not on horses, and the force that propels the bitter loner Eric (Guy Pearce) is a simple one: “I want my car back.”

Borrowing the tone, if not the ferocious kick, of George Miller’s first Mad Max movie, Michôd sets up some ornery brotherhood in Eric’s meeting with the American Rey (Robert Pattinson), whose elder brother was one of the thugs who stole Eric’s car. We wish that their relationship played out with the complex criminal vectors that the writer-director brought to his first feature, Animal Kingdom. Little more than parched-earth pastiche, the movie doesn’t live up to Michôd’s grand synopsis: “It’s about the rapacious capacity for under-regulated Western economies to destroy themselves, and it’s about the seemingly inevitable shift of global power.” Actually, it’s about an hour 42 minutes.

(READ: Richard Corliss’s review of David Michôd’s Animal Kingdom)

Pablo Fendrik’s The Ardor exchanges the American desert for the Argentinian rainforest — though, in all that humidity, times and men are just as hard. Mercenaries in the employ of some multinational nasties have seized a family’s property, killed the father and kidnapped the daughter (Alice Braga). She needs a savior and gets one in Kai (Gael García Bernal), who grew up in the area and has returned to take revenge on those who would despoil it. Braga’s intelligent luster and Bernal’s sandpaper machismo make a combustible match, in a Westernish melodrama with good guys, bad guys and a climactic fight to save one of the world’s last great natural resources.

(READ: Gael Garcìa Bernal in the Argentinian Oscar nominee No)

Kristian Levring’s The Salvation contains aspects of all the other Cannes weekend “Westerns”: fist fights and gunplay, vast expanses of remorseless terrain, strong women ravaged by savage men and, behind these villains, the distant entrepreneurs who will benefit from exploiting a new frontier. The movie is also, on its own, a terrifying, tremendous fun.

1871: Jon (Mads Mikkelsen) has come to America to build a homestead for his wife Marie (Nanna Øland Fabricius, better known as the singer Oh Land) and their 10-year-old son. They have finally joined him, and on a stagecoach to the homestead, two scurvy dudes make a play for Marie, and when Jon pulls a gun on one of the men, the other puts a knife to the boy’s throat and kicks Jon off the coach. When he catches up with it, the driver is dead, as are Jon’s wife and child. Jon blows the varlets to bits, and totes his beloveds’ corpses to his home.

(READ: How Kristian Levring helped created the film form called Dogme)

That’s about the first 10 minutes of a Western omelet that pays tribute to the films of John Ford (especially his greatest Western, The Searchers) and Sergio Leone, while creating its own savory personality. Black Creek, the one town near Jon’s home, is in the effective ownership of a gang of villains led by the imposing Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), brother of one of the men Jon killed. In recompense, he insists that the villagers choose two of their members to die; the Mayor (Jonathan Pryce) and Sheriff (Douglas Henshall) cravenly oblige. Delarue’s brother had been married to Princess (Eva Green), whose dark beauty is scarred by an American Indian who sliced her lips and cut out her tongue. As Jon is captured and tortured by the gang, and escapes with the help of his brother Peter (Mikael Persbrant), he finds that Princess may be his only hope in a den of devils in the hottest circle of Hell.

Even if the movie weren’t super-cool, it would be worth watching for the interplay of all these miscreants, particularly Mikkelsen (who plays Hannibal Lecter on the NBC series and won Cannes’ Best Actor prize two years ago for The Hunt) and Green, the modern screen’s great siren. But this is more than an actors showcase. Neither poking fun at the genre nor elevating it to wild, Tarantinian apotheosis, The Salvation restores the Western as a living form with artistic and political applications to our world. One hint: the town is called Black Creek because there’s oil underneath. And back East, some men more malevolent than Delarue are driving the townspeople off their farms for the crudest reason of all.

TIME movies

Sex and Death at Cannes

The French film fest still loves sex

Hollywood has largely forgotten the power of sexual drama, the ecstasies and pain of intimate contact. But the Cannes Film Festival still loves movies that put erotic eruptions on the big screen. Last year, the French entry Blue Is The Warmest Color, depicting a lesbian affair between a restless teenager and her older lover, received the Palme d’Or from a jury headed by Steven Spielberg.

(READ: Richard Corliss’s review of Blue Is the Warmest Color)

This year’s slate features two studies of the uses and sad abuses of sexuality. One film, the French The Blue Room, which treats the consequences of an adulterous affair, is among the finest on view so far. The other, the Canadian The Captive, fails to grapple successfully with the sick side of sex: the criminal misuse of children.

THE BLUE ROOM. The Belgian novelist Georges Simenon had ample opportunity to consider the dramatic vectors of adulterous liaisons: according to his own confession or boast, he had sex with more than 10,000 women. As productive as he was profligate, with nearly 200 novels and as many short stories, Simenon often wrote of men and women drawn into affairs that end in pain or violence. Among his finest essays on the wages of sex is his 1964 novel The Blue Room, which director-star Mathieu Amalric has made into a film that is splendidly taut, forcefully understated and, at just 76 minutes, blessedly concise. It earns admiration both for the mood it creates and for the melodramatic excesses it avoids.

Julien Gahyde (Amalric), seemingly content in his marriage to Delphine (Léa Drucker), has for the past few months indulged in an affair with Esther Despierre (Stéphanie Cléau), the sultry wife of one of Julien’s old classmates. A tigress in bed, the passionate and possessive Esther sometimes bites Julien’s mouth, as if signaling to attentive eyes — Delphine’s, for example — that he belongs to her. If she were free, Esther asks him, would he leave Delphine? His answer is enigmatic.

Two sudden deaths later, Julien and Esther are arrested, though the prosecuting judge (Laurent Poitrenaux) shines the searchlight of his skepticism on the philandering husband. The “blue room” refers not only to the site of his illicit assignations but also to the color of the trial chamber at the end of the film. Both are places where sex leads to severe judgment.

(READ: Mathieu Amalric as a Bond villain in Quantum of Solace)

Shooting in the old “Academy ratio” (before wide screen) and making exemplary use of composer Grégoire Hetzel’s similarly classic score, Amalric expertly draws the noose of circumstance around Julien. He creates recurring visual motifs, like the housefly that indicates the first sign of trouble; the fly shape also appears as a drop of blood, from Esther’s love bite, on Julien’s white shirt.

Amalric plays the hapless adulterer as someone condemned for the merest infraction; in France, a husband’s sexual transgression is often considered no more serious than a parking ticket. The revelation is Cléau in her first major film role. (She also cowrote the script with Amalric.) Her unconventional beauty can express the allure of a dream lover or the quiet scheming of a demon. In a performance that disdains operatic excess, Cléau never raises her voice. She can seduce or threaten with the merest smile. Like this excellent little film, she achieves maximum impact with minimal means.

THE CAPTIVE. When did Atom Egoyan last make a good movie? Born in Cairo to Armenian parents and raised in Canada, Egoyan made some impressive early films, The Adjuster and Exotica, and won Cannes’ Grand Jury Prize (second place) for his Russell Banks adaptation The Sweet Hereafter. That was 17 years ago, and it’s been downhill ever since; he never validated his early promise as the chronicler of ordinary folks with secret sins and kinks. Yet the Festival keeps inviting him back, perhaps because he keeps casting red-carpet-worthy actors in his projects: Colin Firth and Kevin Bacon for Where the Truth Lies, and Ryan Reynolds, Rosario Dawson and Mireille Enos for his latest disappointment.

(READ: Richard Schickel on Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter)

The Captive recapitulates the arc of Egoyan’s career: early promise, followed by arrant misfires. Cass (Peyton Kennedy), the nine-year-old daughter of a loving couple (Reynolds and Enos), is kidnapped by a child-sex ring. Nine years later, Cass (now played by Alexia Fast) has been compelled to originate Skype chats with young girls whom her captors will abduct and exploit. A psychological study of a young woman brainwashed from victim into predator could be fascinating, if only Egoyan — or another, stronger director — had pursued it.

Instead, he tries to build tension with the skeptical or hostile interrogation of the parents by two cops: Dawson and the egregiously overacting Scott Speedman. (Egoyan should look at The Blue Room to see how an official interrogation should be filmed.) Virtually very scene plays as too flat or monstrously jagged. As Cass’s captor, Kevin Durand serves up a cacophony of twitches and sick grins that the cops somehow don’t notice.

Winter in the southern Ontario locations allows for many chilly vistas, but only reminds viewers of the emotive power the director drew out of snowscapes in The Sweet Hereafter, back when an Atom Egoyan movie was a promise of dour pleasures and not of another missed opportunity.

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