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Cannes, 1999. Alice, an actress, wants to direct an indie picture. Kaz, a talkative (and maybe bogus) deal maker, promises $3 million if she'll use Millie, an aging French star. But, Rick, a big producer, needs Millie for a small part in a fall movie or he loses his star, Tom Hanks. Is Kaz for real? Can Rick sweet-talk Alice and sabotage Kaz to keep Millie from taking that deal? Millie consults with Victor, her ex, about which picture to make, Rick needs money, an ingenue named Blue is discovered, Kaz hits on Victor's new love, and Rick's factotum connects with Blue. Knives go in various backs. Wheels spin. Which deals - and pairings - will be consummated? Written by
As a long-time fan of Henry Jaglom, I'd have to put Festival in Cannes slightly behind his last couple of films, the wonderful "Deja Vu" and "Last Summer in the Hamptons." His work is definitely not to everyone's taste -- none of his characters is free of either self-absorption or self-destructiveness -- but those who don't need clear heroes and villains are well-rewarded with psychologically complex and often highly comic portrayals.
This is more in the spirit of "Venice/Venice" and his earlier, more confessional films with the difference being that Henry's not onscreen. Still, his longtime collaborator Zack Norman gives his best performance ever, Anouk Aimee and Maximilian Schell fully embody both the mystery and deluded romanticism they're meant to evoke and a fine array of new faces (especially Alex Craig Mann and the two female writer/producers) step up to Jaglom's "process" and execute it more seamlessly than ever before. Henry's somewhat distracting habit of arhythmic cross-cutting within dialogue scenes has been almost completely cured -- "Festival" has gorgeous long takes that allow the scenes to completely develop their internal tensions. The production values are also the best ever for one of his films; he and his crew really conveyed the spirit of a festival that is really a market.
My main quibble is that his ending is not as satisfying as those of his last films; it, too, harks back to the looser wrap-ups of his earlier work -- even a bit more certainty about the resolution of a couple of the storylines would have helped this feel a little grander in conception.
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