It’s summer! So why not spend it planning your fall-semester leisure time in advance? Jokes aside, the Cannes Film Festival recently announced its winning films of 2015. Though most haven’t been released in the United States yet, keep an eye out for the following come fall:
“The Lobster” | Winner of the Jury Prize
Some people are a little overdramatic when it comes to love, but in “The Lobster,” finding that special someone is literally a matter of life or death. Set in a not-so-far dystopian future, single people must find a romantic match within 45 days or face the strange yet dire consequence of being turned into an animal and released into the woods. Starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, the film is a skillful combination of genres (one part love story to two parts science fiction) executed by director Yorgos Lanthimos. The Greek director is no stranger to the Cannes film circuit: His 2009 film “Dogtooth” won the Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes in 2009 and was nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign language film the same year. “The Lobster” is a pretty good start for Lanthimos’ first foray into English-language cinema: The film has already been hailed as the most-buzzed-about film on social media.
“Carol” | Winner of best actress (Rooney Mara)
Adapted from “The Price of Salt” — a Patricia Highsmith novel that explores two women’s attraction to and all-consuming infatuation with each other — the film explores how individuals and their relationships with one another can transform over time. Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett) is a woman stuck in a passionless marriage. Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) is an ambitious department store clerk who longs for a more fulfilling life. While at work, Therese and Carol meet, and a fire is sparked: Together, the women find the passion that is missing from their lives. At the time of publication, Highsmith’s 1952 novel was controversial because of the implied optimism of its conclusion — a rarity at a time when same-sex romances were presented as either doomed or perverse. It will be interesting, then, to see how this film is received by a contemporary audience.
“Dheepan” | Winner of the Palme d’Or
This surprise winner was met with mixed reviews upon its debut, and critics shrugged their shoulders at the win. That said, “Dheepan” is bound to be a tear jerker. The film tells the story of three strangers — a former soldier, a woman and a girl — who flee Sri Lanka for Paris, where they pose as a family. Written primarily in Tamil, one of the major languages spoken in Sri Lanka, the film exposes the immigrants’ struggle as they escape one reality and enter another. The film has been acquired by IFC Films, and a U.S. release date is forthcoming. In the meantime, you can watch a touching clip from the film here.
“Son of Saul” | Winner of the Grand Prix
This film follows Saul Auslander (Geza Rohrig) and his experience in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Saul is a member of the “Sonderkommando,” a group of Jewish prisoners selected to assist Nazi guards in the extermination of other Jews. The film has been lauded for its fresh take on the Holocaust, with the Los Angeles Times calling it a “quasi-documentary” and an artistic accomplishment that introduces a “new cinematic language.” The camera keeps close to Saul for the duration of the film, dragging the viewer directly into the atrocities of genocide. “Son of Saul,” the first feature-length film by Hungarian director Laszlo Nemes, is certainly a riveting tour de force. Interested viewers can watch a clip from the film here. (Warning: There is gun violence.)
“Chronic” | Winner of best screenplay
Starring Tim Roth (“Reservoir Dogs,” “Pulp Fiction”) as David, a nurse for the terminally ill, “Chronic” explores the divide in David’s life: He forges deep, emotional connections with his patients while remaining awkward and reserved in the outside world. The film puts the relationship between David and his patients, as well as each individual’s emotional state, into sharp focus. For authenticity, director and screenwriter Michel Franco used a mix of professional performers and nonactors. The nurses in the film, for instance, are all real nurses. In writing the film, Franco drew on reality, too. He took much of his inspiration from the unique relationship that his grandmother, who suffered a paralyzing stroke, developed with her nurse in the months before her death. For the subtitle-wary, this film is in English. You can catch an early glimpse here.