Nobody has stumbled across a Brown Bunny. Nobody has discovered amasterpiece. That seemed to sum up the feeling about this year's competitionfilms as Cannes heads towards its last days.

A sluggish edition thus far hasn't stirred the passions of some yearsand the decision to support veteran filmmakers has brought mixed results.

Close to the top of his form, Michael Haneke has delivered thecompetition's most admired film with Hidden, a typically unsettlingrumination on guilt, trust and paranoia.

David Cronenberg proved that he could master commercial filmmaking with AHistory Of Violence, a thriller as taut as an Anthony Mann western fromthe 1950s. Fellow Canadian Atom Egoyan proved that he couldn't mastercommercial filmmaking with Where The Truth Lies, a clumsy cod noirdisappointment.

Lars Von Trier continued to refine his role as agent provocateur with Manderlay but CarlosReygadas stumbled with his attempt to fly the flag for uncompromising visionarycinema in Battle In Heaven. Gus Van Sant was generously praised for hisminimalist Kurt Cobain tale Last Days but the Dardenne brothersalso seemed to be revisiting familiar territory with The Child.

Surprisingly, it was Woody Allen who found fresh inspiration with hisLondon-set Match Point, a meeting of Chekhov and Patricia Highsmith whichechoed his own Crimes And Misdemeanours.

If only the film had been in competition it might have been a contender.The same could also be said of Shane Black's hip, hugely entertaining, filmnoir romp Kiss Kiss Bang Bang or Adam Curtis's stirring political documentaryThe Power Of Nightmares.

By the time Jim Jarmusch's sweetly melancholic comedy Broken Flowers arrived onWednesday, critics were in need of some relief from a steady diet of filmssternly committed to exploring the fear and loathing rampant in these uncertaintimes. In a year that has championed ambiguity and even inscrutability, theguilty pleasure of a Shrek or the warmth of a Comme Une Image might haveprovided a welcome balance to some of the more earnest and icy Competitioncontenders.

Hou Hsiao Hsien's Three Times, Tommy Lee Jones directorialdebut The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada and Wim Wenders Don'tCome Knocking are the significant Competition titles still to unspool. Let's hopethey have kept the best for last.