Cannes Film Festival 2013: 20th May Reactions Part 2 (‘As I Lay Dying’, ‘A Castle in Italy’, ‘The Great Beauty’)

James Franco

James Franco

Here’s the second part of today’s Cannes reaction roundup. Both Shield of Straw and Blind Detective were less than warmly received this morning – will the remaining two Palme D’or competitors fare better? Many eyes are also on James Franco’s adapation of the unadaptable As I Lay Dying. Reviews and tweets as they come in, hopefully.


Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“This may look gimmicky and self-conscious, but it is consistently and seriously presented, and Franco’s As I Lay Dying is a worthwhile movie, approached in an intelligent and creative spirit.”

Catherine Bray, Time Out London

“More experienced directors than Franco have come to stickier ends adapting ‘unfilmable’ classics, and his chosen split-screen technique is not as gimmicky as it sounds. At its best, it’s used to simultaneously convey different people’s perspectives within the same scene, which clearly echoes the multiple first person narration of the book.”

Brad Brevet, Rope of Silicon

“In all, it’s tough to figure out why Franco felt like telling this story. None of the characters are all that interesting or standout over the other and the story seems itself doesn’t appear to offer anything profound.”

Leslie Felperin, Variety

“A competently acted, technically adequate Cliff Notes take on Faulkner’s tale of dirt-poor Missippi folk in mourning.”

Allan Hunter, Screen Daily

“Franco attempts to capture and match Faulkner’s stream of consciousness prose with split-screen imagery, interior monologues and slow motion to create a film that might seem more at home as an art museum installation than a mainstream cinema release.”

Kevin Jagernauth, The Playlist

“For all of the respect Franco clearly has for the source material, “As I Lay Dying” simply doesn’t have much of an actual story to tell. The Bundrens are clearly a troubled brood, but what further insight there is to be gleaned from the film remains obtuse. Their quest is the main thrust of any momentum the movie has, and yet it often feels like the picture is spinning its cart wheels.”

Guy Lodge, Hit Fix

“In transcribing Faulkner’s busy catalogue of misery to the scripted page, Franco and co-writer (and former college bud) Matt Rager have remained — within reason — loyal to the text, necessarily reducing or even eschewing a number of secondary characters (some of them rather dry) without throwing the novel’s rambling, episodic structure out with the bathwater.”

Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

“Like the multiple English masters degree holder he is, Franco, with co-scripter Matt Rager, has wrestled to the ground the author’s fragmented, multi-voiced tale of the ordeal an impoverished Mississippi family endures to bury its matriarch and emerged with something many have tried but few have delivered, a worthy screen adaptation of Faulkner.”

Shaun Munro, Film School Rejects

“It is not so much that Franco has butchered Faulkner’s novel as he has inflicted a garish blight upon the art of cinema.”


John Bleasdale, Cine-Vue

James Franco’s As I Lay Dying had the most walk outs I’ve seen yet, but it is better than the Great Gatsby

Catherine Bray, Film4

Mulling over what I thought of James Franco’s As I Lay Dying… surprisingly close to the book, though of course loses the inner monologues.

I enjoyed As I Lay Dying, but feel I benefited from recently reading the book – it’s a great visual companion. Does it stand alone?

Mike D’Angelo, The A.V. Club

As I Lay Dying (Franco): W/O. Yeah, no.

Jake Howell, Movie City News

Just saw AS I LAY DYING. To quote Foghorn Leghorn: “what in the, I say, what in the name of Jesse James do you suppose that is?”

Craig Kennedy, Living in Cinema

I hope James Franco’s AS I LAY DYING isn’t the last thing I see as I lay dying though its narcoleptic properties might be nice

Guy Lodge, Hit Fix

AS I LAY DYING (C) A fiasco would have been more fun. Loyal within reason to text. Fussily split screen gives Franco all the best close-ups.

Shaun Munro, Film School Rejects

James Franco’s As I Lay Dying is the certifiable epic fail of so far

Split screen coverage an awful choice, had to rely on French subs to make sense of the mumblecore

Fred Topel, Crave Online

AS I LAY DYING is the I MELT WITH YOU of . I counted 36 walkouts just in the lower section. Can’t speak for balcony.


Geoff Andrew, Time Out London

“She’s helped considerably by a fine cast (including the too seldom seen Marie Riviere and Andre Wilms), but in the end it’s Bruni Tedeschi’s sure grasp of the milieu – and in particular her acute understanding of the specific foibles of a rich, arty but out-of-touch class nostalgic for an earlier era – that makes the film a modest but surprisingly substantial delight.”

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“Actor-turned-director Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi has given us probably the worst film of the Cannes competition so far: a smug, twee confection about a family losing their house.”

Scott Foundas, Variety

“Working from a screenplay devised with her usual collaborators, Agnes De Sacy and Noemie Lvovsky (“Camille Rewinds”), Bruni Tedeschi holds all of pic’s myriad tangents in a delicate balance, no single one ever rising to the fore, no pressure felt to wrap everything — or anything — up in a tidy package at the end.”

Jessica Kiang, The Playlist

“Some sharper commentary on the absurdities, injustices and contradictions of her world could have elevated the film immeasurably. But for all the film’s lightness, what it seems she really wants to do is show that the very rich are as capable of grief and loneliness and disappointment as the rest of us.”

Shaun Munro, Film School Rejects

“Some unexpectedly dark humor accompanies the unsettling inferences early on to give A Castle in Italy just the amount of idiosyncracy and edginess needed to distinguish itself in a crowded field.”

Michal Oleszczyk, RogerEbert.com

“What does make me angry, though, is the fact that a film like this one occupies a slot in the Main Competition, which could have been conceivably better allotted to a truly original work, like Alain Guiraudie’s “Stranger by the Lake”, screened in Un Certain Regard section.”

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

“Valeria Bruni Tedeschi’s big-screen roman a clef drowns its sincerity in self-consciousness.”


Geoff Andrew, Sight & Sound

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi’s A CASTLE IN ITALY a neatly observed, dark, gentle comedy-drama about rich eccentric family in decline

Dave Calhoun, Time Out London

CANNES: Interesting new use for holy water in the Valeria Bruni Tedeschi film ‘Castle in Italy’. Not sure would approve.

CANNES: Mon dieu, ‘Castle in Italy’ couldn’t be more French if you fried it with garlic and peppered it liberally with national holidays.

CANNES: Largely, that’s a good thing.

Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph

A Castle in Italy by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi is a perceptive, conservative comedy of manners & the comp’s most middle-class film

Mike D’Angelo, The A.V. Club

A Castle in Italy (Bruni Tedeschi): 24. Imagine SUMMER HOURS stripped of beauty, tenderness, grace, intelligence, and coherence.

Tim Grierson, Screen Daily

Catering to adult audiences at the art houses, the movie radiates a sunny, pleasant atmosphere that could help make it a date-night selection for upscale couples.

Aaron Hillis, Movie Maker Magazine

A CASTLE IN ITALY: Bruni Tedeschi’s bougie self-satisfaction as frivolous, vignetted acting exercises. SUMMER HOURS for housewives.

Peter Howell, Toronto Star

A CASTLE IN ITALY: Director VBT’s lead, played by herself, vows to “make room for life in my life.” She does, often amusingly.

Nick James, Sight & Sound

Valeria Bruno-Tedeschi’s A CASTLE IN. ITALY Wants us to know the rich suffer too. It has panache but is a tad self-indulgent

Jonathan Romney, Screen Daily

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi’s CHATEAU EN ITALIE – histrionic, neurotic, self-adoring family drama. Hated it down to the closing freeze frame.

Blake Williams, Indiewire

A CASTLE IN ITALY (4.6): I dunno, maybe it’s just not as offensive as I’d been led to believe. Passed the time, unspectacularly.


John Bleasdale, Cine-Vue

“The film’s greatest strengths – Sorrentino’s visual aplomb and Servillo’s pitch perfect performance – end up encumbering the story. As the portrait of a novelist who hasn’t written a novel in years, Sorrentino’s latest becomes a great, unapproachable beauty, itself having sadly lost the plot.”

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“This movie looks and feels superb, it is pure couture cinema. But there is also a excess of richness and bombast and for all its sleekness I felt that the spark of emotion was being hidden, and there is a kind of frustration in the operatic sadness.”

Dave Calhoun, Time Out London

“Sorrentino is a filmmaker who, whenever he can, kicks words into touch in favour of an ever-moving camera, endless locations, room after room after room and characters, events and situations that are way larger than life.”

Kevin Jagernauth, The Playlist

“Just like Fellini’s grand spectacles, “La Grande Bellezza” washes over you in series of scenes, visages, sensations and impressions, though in this case it doesn’t quite gel into a cohesive whole.”

David Jenkins, Little White Lies

“Though The Great Beauty is an example of a director continuing his overarching project and making the films he knows how to make, there’s a very brief hint of a possible new direction for the future.”

Shaun Munro, Film School Rejects

“Sorrentino’s darkly funny riff on the place we all end up considers the weight of the soul with a level of insight that suggests the director has been long-pondering his own existence despite his relatively young age of 42.”

Jay Weissberg, Variety

“As with “Il Divo” and “This Must Be the Place,” Sorrentino continues to tackle major topics using an extraordinary combination of broad brushstrokes and minute detail. Passion via the intellect has become his trademark, well suited to this dissection of empty diversions, indulged in by latter-day Neros fiddling while Rome burns.”

Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter

“Since so much lies in the images, D.P. Luca Bigazzi plays a major part in the creating the film’s distinctive look. His feeling for Baroque palazzi and statues, streets and piazzas captures the haunting beauty of the title, finally embodied by a flock of graceful flamingos taking wing over the city at dawn.”


Ryland Aldrich, Twitch Film

Sorrentino’s THE GREAT BEAUTY is more existential fashion show than movie, but it’s immensely enjoyable w/ exquisite cinematography.

Geoff Andrew, Sight & Sound

Sorrentino’s LA GRANDE a big baroque bonkers meditation on beauty, creativity, leisure ageing + death. Love letter to Rome too.

Raffi Asdourian, The Film Stage

Opulent and sweeping, ‘La Grande Bellezza’ is an epic yarn filled with moments of brilliance. Feels like a modern Fellini film.

John Bleasdale, Cine-Vue

La Grande Bellezza. Visually brilliant. Wonderful performance but narratively lost.

Xan Brooks, The Guardian

The Grand Beauty: a film not so much projected as draped. Opulent, inky-black satire of la dolce vita. Extraordinary

Dave Calhoun, Time Out London

Loved Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty at CANNES – a leap forward after ‘This Must Be.Place’. Beautiful, surface, yes, but then it creeps up…

Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph

Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty is wild, ambitious, spiritual & v heavily Fellini-influenced. Will divide people but I LOVED

Fairly certain the opening scene will be the best thing I see in the cinema this year.

Jordan Cronk, Slant

THE GREAT BEAUTY (P. Sorrentino) There’s something inherently sad in Sorrentino’s work but this is dull and scrubbed sterile. C-

Mike D’Angelo, The A.V. Club

The Great Beauty (Sorrentino): 58. Folks who like Fellini more than I do will flip for this. Basically his DOLCE VITA. Lovely, rambling.

William Goss, MSN Movies

The Great Beauty: shaggy, wistful, whimsical, a more enjoyable “poor party people” picture than The Great Gatsby and The Bling Ring.

Aaron Hillis, Movie Maker Magazine

THE GREAT BEAUTY: Left after 1.5 hrs w/ 1 to go. More bougie self-satisfaction + smug, purple, vulgar, foolish. My last Sorrentino.

Jordan Hoffman, Film.com

Can a movie be TOO beautiful? Sorrentino’s THE GREAT BEAUTY is a wistful feast for the senses, but way all over the place.

Those referencing LA DOLCE VITA really mean THE ECLIPSE.

Jake Howell, Movie City News

I feel like Paolo Sorrentino shoulda directed THE GREAT GATSBY. Dude knows how to throw a party.

LA GRANDE BELLEZZA: two different movies clashing at the seam. I love the sentimentality of it all; wish more of it was there.

Peter Howell, Toronto Star

THE GREAT BEAUTY: An old writer’s rueful odyssey thru Rome & memory. Fellini would smile, maybe also applaud.

David Jenkins, Little White Lies

THE GREAT BEAUTY (Sorrentino) Godless Roman jet trash in abstract meltdown. A visually bombastic film about nothing and nothingness.

Rhapsodic moments in THE GREAT BEAUTY,but PS prefers artificial, stylised poetry over something more natural.Except extraordinary final shot

Guy Lodge, Hit Fix

THE GREAT BEAUTY (C+) Luxurious craft; PS gets power of The Shot. But vacantly pompous and exclusive; also, La Dolce Vita is its own homage.

Shaun Munro, Film School Rejects

Sorrentino film was good if indulgently overlong

David Neary, Next Projection

There was always going to be one huge disappointment. Just wish it hadn’t been this one.

La Grande Bellezza: Recklessly self-indulgent update of La Dolce Vita squandors its director’s remarkable visuals. Dialogue is superb though

Matt Patches, Hollywood.com

Sorrentino’s La Grande Bellezza is like a Dos Equis Man movie. Greatest life, saddest life. Gorgeous Rome setting & hilarious.

Jonathan Romney, Screen Daily

Sorremtino’s LA GRANDE BELLEZZA lives up to its title. What audacity and wit, and it outblings IL GRANDE GATSBY.

DA BIG BEAUTY (cont). Capolovoro or not, no idea yet. But talk about intoxicating. And it starts with a quote from Celine, so plus points.

Craig Skinner, Hey U Guys

LA GRANDE BELLEZZA (C) Journey to the End of the Party. Another beautiful but hollow Sorrentino joint.

Jason Solomons, The Observer

La Grande Bellezza was amazing. part fellini, part antonioni, all Sorrentino. Actor Toni Servilo fantastic – great jackets, too

just sayin’: more it lingers in my addled mind, Sorrentino’s La Grande Bellezza is one of 21st century’s greatest European films

Blake Williams, Indiewire

THE GREAT BEAUTY (5.8): Never less than amusing, never more than amusing; LA DOLCE VITA comparisons impossible to avoid; Flew by, fwiw.

Behind the Candelabra (Steven Soderbergh) – IN COMPETITION
Sarah Prefers to Run (Chloé Robichaud) – UN CERTAIN REGARD
Weekend of a Champion (Frank Simon) – SPECIAL SCREENING
Bombay Talkies (Z. Akhtar, D. Banerjee, K. Johar & A. Kashyap) – SPECIAL SCREENING
Bastards (Claire Denis) – UN CERTAIN REGARD
Wakolda (Lucia Puenzo) – UN CERTAIN REGARD
Grigris (Mahamat-Saleh Haroun) – IN COMPETITION

A Strange Course of Events (Raphaël Nadjari) – DIRECTORS’ FORTNIGHT
We Are What We Are (Jim Mickle) – DIRECTORS’ FORTNIGHT
Nos Heros Sont Morts Ce Soir (D. Perrault) – CRITICS’ WEEK


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