French shocker ‘Titane’ wins Palme d’Or as Spike Lee slips up
Shock-fest “Titane” took home the top prize Palme d’Or at Cannes on Saturday, revealed early at the closing ceremony in an embarrassing slip-up by jury president Spike Lee.
French director Julie Ducournau is only the second woman to take home the prize for the movie, one of the wildest, sexiest and most violent films ever shown at the Cannes film festival. The first woman to ever win the prize was Jane Campion for her 1993 film “The Piano.”
“Titane” tells the story of a young woman who has sex with cars, kills without a care, and pretends to be a boy despite being pregnant by a vintage Cadillac.
Lee, the first black man to lead the jury, read out the winner at the very start of the prize section, rather than introducing the first award of the night for best actor.
After an awkward pause and regrouping, the best actor award was given to US actor Caleb Landry Jones for his chilling performance in “Nitram” about Australia’s worst mass shooting in 1996.
Making a film about the Port Arthur massacre, in which 35 people died, triggered harsh criticism of director Justin Kurzel in Australia.
But critics were won over at the Cannes premiere, with Variety calling it a “devastating study of atrocity” that shows “quiet respect for the victims’ dignity.”
It was a huge night, too, for the previously unknown Norwegian actress Renate Reinsve, who was rocketed to stardom by her role in “Worst Person in the World.”
Her role as a twenty-something searching for her identity and pinballing through relationships was a sensation, and caught the 33-year-old totally unprepared.
“No one has seen me in anything,” she told AFP after the premiere. “The other day I woke up and I puked. And today I woke up and I cried.”
The ceremony then moved awkwardly on to the third-place jury prize, which was shared by “Ahed’s Knee” from Israel’s Nadav Lapid and “Memoria” by Thailand’s former Palme winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
The race had been wide open this year, with critics pointing towards many possible successors to “Parasite,” the South Korean hit which took home the last Palme in 2019 before making history by triumphing at the Oscars.
Last year’s festival was cancelled because of the pandemic.
“I promised the guys on the jury that I won’t be a dictator, that I’ll be democrati… but only up to a point!” Lee told reporters early in the festival, as they began mulling the 24 films in competition.
“If the jury is split four against four, it’s me that decides,” he said.
The jury members have watched a lot of sex this year, from lesbian nuns in Paul Verhoeven’s salacious “Benedetta” to a porn star returning to small-town Texas in “Red Rocket,” which scored well with critics.
There were doubts early in the festival about the COVID-19 logistics, with some festival-goers grossed out by the spit tests required every 48 hours, and criticism on social media over unmasked attendees in the cinemas at early premieres.
Restrictions were tightened, partying scaled back, and even though the stars couldn’t quite keep themselves from hugs and kisses on the red carpet, the festival appeared to pass without a major outbreak.
But there was still plenty of star power.
Tilda Swinton was ubiquitous on the red carpet this year, appearing in five films of the official selection.
She was clear, however, that her proudest moment was receiving the Palm Dog award on behalf of her three spaniels, who appeared with her in “The Souvenir Part 2.”
“Honestly, this is the prize to get,” she said at Friday’s canine ceremony, as she tied the red collar prize around her neck. JB
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