The 76th Cannes Film Festival closed on Saturday with the Palme d’Or for ‘Anatomy of a Fall’. Directed by Justine Triet, this intellectual thriller revolves around a woman on trial following the mysterious death of her husband. Written by Triet and Arthur Harari, the film was an early favorite with critics.
Triet is the third woman to win the Palme; Julia Ducournau won in 2021 for ‘Titane’ and Jane Campion won the prize in 1993 for ‘The Piano’.
The Palme was presented to Triet by Jane Fonda, who noted the “historic” number of women — seven — who had films vying for top honors. The strong main competition, with a jury led by director Ruben Ostlund, effectively announced that the festival was back at full strength after several unstable pandemic years.
The Grand Prix, in fact the festival’s second prize, went to ‘The Zone of Interest’. Directed by Jonathan Glazer and based on the novel of the same name by Martin Amis, the film revolves around the Auschwitz commandant and his wife, whose home borders the extermination camp. An icy exploration of the banality of evil – the family eats, relaxes and sleeps to the constant sounds of yelling, screaming and gunfire – the film sharply divided critics here.
Fallen Leaves, the latest by Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki, won the Jury Prize. A love story in a mildly funny and melancholy tone, the film stars Alma Pöysti and Jussi Vatanen as a couple who meet one night in Helsinki. The actors accepted the award on behalf of their director, who attended the presentation.
Best director went to Vietnamese-French filmmaker Tran Anh Hung for ‘The Pot-au-Feu’. A lavish drama set in the late 19th century, the film stars Juliette Binoche and Benoît Magimel as a foodie couple living and cooking in rural France. The film’s focus on the sensual pleasures of food charmed many, though one less enchanted critic likened it to a French Nancy Meyers film.
The screenwriting award went to Yuji Sakamoto for ‘Monster’. Directed by Japanese author Hirokazu Kore-eda, this touching drama is about a boy whose sudden behavioral problems at school escalate with far-reaching consequences. “Monster” features a delicate score by Ryuichi Sakamoto, who died last month.
The prize for best actor went to the great experienced Japanese actor Koji Yakusho, the star of Wim Wenders’ ‘Perfect Days’. The film is about a loner who works cleaning (some fantastic) public toilets in Tokyo. His quiet, routine existence is disrupted by an unexpected visit from a niece, an interlude that brings him joy but also fear. Wenders, whose documentary ‘Anselm’ was screened out of competition, watched with a broad smile as Yakusho accepted the prize.
The Best Actress award went to Merve Dizdar for her role as a teacher in ‘About Dry Grasses’ by Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan. This slow-boiling drama revolves around a male teacher, Samet, who becomes increasingly bitter about his teaching job in remote Eastern Anatolia. Dizdar’s character, Nuray, helps him through his crisis, a stereotyped role that elevates the actress with warmth and subtlety.
The prize for Un Certain Regard, which often features younger directors and what the festival calls ‘artistically more daring’ work than in the main competition, was won by ‘How to Have Sex’, the directorial debut of British filmmaker Molly Manning Walker. The prize for the first feature film, the Caméra d’Or, went to ‘Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell’ by Vietnam-born director Thien An Pham. The Palme for best short film went to ’27’ by the Hungarian animator Flóra Anna Buda.