76th Cannes Film Festival Breath of the Palm with Wim

76th Cannes Film Festival: Breath of the Palm with Wim Wenders – Le Devoir

A strange phenomenon sometimes occurs in Cannes. Let’s call it the breath of the palm that flows between the seats and makes our spirit soar. Very beautiful pieces have prevailed since the beginning of this competition, but on Thursday, before German Wim Wenders’ Perfect Days, that grace touched us like an angel’s wing.

There are two more movies to watch in this race. Who knows what wood they will warm themselves with? Yet the perfection, subtlety, and poetry of this work compel its obviousness. Unfortunately for a number of years we have been hearing that successive juries would propose that the top award be given to an outstanding film likely to be released! As a result, the fragile, intimate and confidential works would have fewer chances than before of making it to the top and being content with the Jury Grand Prix or other less lustrous laurels. And who knows what jury consensus might hold for those truly deserving? The secret of these confabulations! Still, we demand justice for this masterpiece…

Wenders (a 1984 Gold winner for his amazing road movie Paris, Texas) has a double on the Croisette this year. Together they launched Anselm, a 3D documentary about the German Anselm Kiefer, a giant of contemporary art, in a special session. A fertile vintage for a filmmaker who knows his lows.

With “Perfect Days”, filmed in Japan, he addresses an a priori unattractive topic. The portrait of a lonely, silent and sophisticated man (Yakusho Kōji) who cleans public toilets in the Shibuya district of Tokyo. That said, the beauty and the subtlety of this film with the camera full of flexibility and ingenuity hardly combine with the rush of the times. Modern but…

This German has managed to create a Japanese work here that adheres to the codes of the Land of the Rising Sun, imbued with unspoken words and hidden looks, under the splendor of a tree in the wind, a smile or a movement from taï chi eradicated from a seemingly trivial everyday life that has become sublime. Wenders puts himself in the shadow of the great Japanese filmmaker Ozu Yasujirō, longtime chronicler of the changes in his archipelago, mentor to whom this film is dedicated.

Yakusho Kōji (“The Eel”, “Shall We Dance?”), brilliant actor – will he win the best actor award this year? — illuminates with an inner light Hirayama, a man of wisdom and supreme courtesy who illuminates the city’s magnificent public toilets. He scrubs the bowls with meticulousness and bliss, an expression of his spiritual evolution, his respect for the common good and for things well done. Where does this unclassifiable individual come from? From a wealthy background. He reads great authors, listens to American rock songs from the 1960s and 1970s on audio cassettes, captures the wonders of nature with his old film camera, far from the sirens of the digital revolution.

Creatures cross their lives: a jolly young clerk, a charming niece who emerges from the past, the landlady of a bar who sings “The House of the Rising Sun” in Japanese to the customers she spoils. The photos taken by Hirayama add lyricism to the film, while songs by Lou Reed, Velvet Underground and co. mix with Japanese melodies and sing a lively rhythm: a striking contrast effect. This film proves magnificent in its fleeting, melodic and poignant truth. like that !

Breillat is on a knife edge

In the face of such a jewel, Catherine Breillat’s Last Summer – a free adaptation of the Danish film Queen of Hearts – which is nevertheless emotional and brilliantly produced, loses its star. The French filmmaker of ‘A Real Young Girl’ and ‘Anatomy of Hell’ has always treated eroticism head on, hence her sticky label ‘Sulphurous’, but this work about love shock and lies stirs emotions above all else.

Through the staging of a married lawyer mother (Léa Drucker) who has become the mistress of her 17-year-old son-in-law (Samuel Kircher), the filmmaker only treats transgressions to better examine the mysteries of the human soul. Neither a predator in their forties nor a sacrificial lamb meet. Two fragile beings grab each other and then betray each other without quenching their fire. The part of childhood in which this woman refused to die corresponds to the part of adolescence with her chubby face in her bed. The family and professional leaders are cut into key scenes that predict the dead end, like in a Chabrol film.

Catherine Breillat had not filmed for ten years after suffering a stroke in 2005 that left her half paralyzed and then being scammed by a crook who disappeared with her life savings. Depressed for a long time, she uncovered this scam in 2011 in “Abuse of Weakness”. For them as for Wenders, 2023 will be the year of the big comeback.

“Last Summer” explores love meeting life’s constraints, with luminous imagery and Léa Drucker on the razor’s edge between guilt, fear of the consequences and almost mystical carnal ecstasies. From a wild and antisocial boy, the young man becomes hostage to confused emotions, and Samuel Kircher plays the disorder of flesh and heart with palpable abandon.

A great film, sustained by an unrelenting mechanism, Last Summer remains a relatively classic cinematic work. For his part, Wenders will have succeeded in the magical flight by venturing out of the frame.

Odile Tremblay is a guest at the Cannes Film Festival.

To see in the video