It only takes two or threefilms to bring a festival alive. They don't even have to be touched bygreatness, just talking points that make everyone glad to be here. Cache set Cannes buzzing last year. The Brown Bunny managed it on an unforgettable scale in 2003.
This year, a respectableroll call of competition titles all come with caveats and equivocations. Volver is sublime but it is really Almodovar's best' TheKaurismaki is slight. The Moretti is delightful but more like three films thanone. The Nuri Ceylan is intensely beautiful but does it truly measure up as amasterpiece' Andrea Arnold's Red Road is a bracing discovery but it has its detractors.
Ironically, the wow factorappears to be all that is missing in a year that hindsight may judge to havebeen better than average. Too many films have been guilty of trying to bite offmore than they can chew.
Ambitious auteurs aregenerally to be encouraged but perhaps not when they are intent on deliveringthe definitive statement on the human condition, the sorry state of the worldand the impending demise of the planet or all three if the film is by RichardKelly. The sprawl of Southland Tales caused widespread indigestion and even the supposedly provocativeFast
Food Nation left most people asking where's the beef'
Away from the Competitiontitles there has been a succession of small scale discoveries from Wang Chao'sbeautifully subdued Franco-Chinese melodrama Luxury Car and the endearing portemanteau love letter Paris,Je T¹Aime in Un Certain Regardto Jens Lien's surreal Norwegian fable The Bothersome Man in Critics Week and a particularly impressive numberof Quinzaine entries including Stefan Krohmer's acutely handled Germany drama Summer04, Bong Joon-ho's ridiculouslyentertaining creature feature The Host and Ray Lawrence's Jindabyne, a mature, poised Raymond Carver adaptation that could easily havefeatured in the main competition. Festival programmers and arthousedistributors should have left the Festival armed with spoils for the comingyear.
Have we seen the Palme D'Orwinner yet' Probably not unless Wong Kar-Wai's jury decides to reward Almodovaras much for lifetime achievement as for the glories of Volver. There are still a number of titles to unspool overthe Festival's last days and word is continuing to build on the Argentineanpolitical drama Cronica De Una Fuga.It could be the talking point the Festival needs and it wouldn¹t be thefirst time that Cannes has kept the best until last.