Cannes Film Festival 2013: 21st May Reactions Part 2 (‘Bastards’, ‘Wakolda’, ‘Grigris’)

Claire Denis

Claire Denis

There have been a few rumours regarding controversial content in Claire Denis’ latest Bastards. Now, the critics will be able to decide for themselves whether they want to be offended, or if her latest offering is indeed worthy of an actual competition slot in place of allegedly less deserving films – Shield of Straw and A Castle in Italy, namely. Lucia Puenzo’s Wakolda and Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s Grigris round out today’s press screenings.


Brad Brevet, Rope of Silicon

“The performances are solid, Lindon and Mastroianni are particularly impressive and I have nothing at all wrong with the dark material, but the way it was presented just all seemed so meaningless that it felt like a film that was presented incomplete.”

Xan Brooks, The Guardian

“For perhaps the first time ever, I had the sense that Denis’s painstaking approach was little more than an act of concealment; that her actual story was thin and tacky and that her elaborate style was precisely that. Sleight of hand is all well and good. But sooner or later a film must pay up.”

David Jenkins, Little White Lies

“Put simply, Bastards offers confirmation were it needed that Denis remains one of the most exciting and innovative directors working today.”

Daniel Kasman, MUBI

“A film of profoundly somber gloam, of loneliness and anger and even stifled madness, of complicity and solitude, its sadness is almost absolute.”

Jessica Kiang, The Playlist

“Ultimately, even if you’ve the stomach for its more seedy aspects, what separates this film in terms of quality from Denis’ best work is that once you’ve pieced together the puzzle-box structure, there remains little else to chew on.”

Eric Kohn, Indiewire

“Bogged down by flashbacks and flash forwards, “The Bastards” pointlessly mixes up its ingredients, creating a distancing effect from the tangible sadness at its core. The result is the rare case of a movie that confirms its maker’s skill while wasting it on useless ambition.”

Shaun Munro, Film School Rejects

“Though murkily lensed and self-consciously sombre, Denis’ latest fails most in the narrative department, failing to muster much intrigue.”

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

“A stylishly made but unyielding drama that will consolidate more than expand director Claire Denis’ devoted fan base.”

Rowena Santos Aquino, Next Projection

Like a piece of rope whose strands unravel first very slowly, then a little bit faster, and then so quickly as to be uncontrollable, so do the dusky and murky bodies, feelings, and situations spin around in Les salauds. In this way, the impact of the final unraveling hits the spectator right in the stomach.”

Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York

“Like Denis’ sublimely impenetrable The Intruder (2004), the point is to get hopelessly lost in the film’s eerie, unsettling flow.”


Alex Billington, First Showing

Les Salauds – Directed by Claire Denis. So much told through subtle/incredible visual storytelling. Compelling but ending sucks.

John Bleasdale, Cine-Vue

Claire Denis : Well made drama that just felt wrong all the way through

Dave Calhoun, Time Out London

New Claire Denis. We’re in the presence of une maitresse, for sure, but behind the fractured storytelling, the story is pretty hoary/whory.

Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph

The new Claire Denis film confirms I’m more of a Paolo Sorrentino kinda guy.

Adam Cook, MUBI

Claire Denis’ BASTARDS is as dark as they come & subtly intense. Begs for repeat viewings.

Jordan Cronk, Slant

BASTARDS (C. Denis): Deceit and psychosexual intrigue rendered as enigmatic thriller. A brutal, harrowing masterpiece. A

Mike D’Angelo, The A.V. Club

Why didn’t you guys tell me BASTARDS is Denis’ DEMONLOVER? I would’ve been way more excited going in.

Bastards (Denis): 63. Like DEMONLOVER, weds magnificent form to vaguely disturbing, kinda inane content. Enthralling in the moment.

Kenji Fujishima, In Review Online

BASTARDS (2013, Denis): the kind of bleak vision that leaves me cold, but some of it’s beautifully evocative in the moment.

William Goss, MSN Movies

Bastards: I nodded off at some point in the first act and paid the price for it. Another agreeable Tindersticks score, at any rate.

I will admit that Bastards got a little corny at times…

Tim Grierson, Screen Daily

BASTARDS is just terrific — sexy and dark and nasty. What does Claire Denis have to do to get into the Official Competition?

Glenn Heath Jr., Press Play

BASTARDS (A): Urban waterfalls, blinding skies, & deep black backgrounds all suggesting a collective noir reckoning. Brilliant.

Jordan Hoffman, Film.com

I don’t think anyone will be accusing Claire Denis of selling her vision short any time soon.

Soundtrack to BASTARDS was fantastic … or maybe simplistic pseudo Tangerine Dream. Incapable of figuring this film out (good sign usually)

Peter Howell, Toronto Star

BASTARDS: Lots of visual pop in Claire Denis’ UCR entry, but what most impressed me was the film’s sound, like a club mix.

Wendy Ide, The Times

Denis’ Bastards: like crawling over razor blades and used syringes while someone chucks bottles of piss at you. But, you know, in a good way

Nick James, Sight & Sound

In BASTARDS every shot and cut was that of a real artist, even if something intangible is missing from the revenge storyline

Dustin Jansick, Way Too Indie

Claire Denis’ BASTARDS is a difficult watch but on a technical level very good.

David Jenkins, Little White Lies

BASTARDS (Denis) Narcotic noir deconstruction is one of the best at .

Guy Lodge, Hit Fix

BASTARDS (B+) Ingenious concealment of double-track narrative arrests more than narrative itself? Erotica for Denis-Godard-Staples faithful.

BASTARDS (cont). ‘Intruder’-level, really, with whatever thrills and limitations that might imply for you. An insult that it’s not in Comp.

Among other achievements, Claire Denis’ latest has reduced my appetite for corn on the cob. Also, Cannes’ Year of the Penis continues apace.

Shaun Munro, Film School Rejects

Bastards – 2/5. Nice cleavage. Not so good film

David Neary, Next Projection

Les Salauds: Standard thriller told in a vague manner, shot in Denis’s close-up style. A great finale is all that makes it really memorable.

Matt Patches, Hollywood.com

Bastards is an unsettling, often sexy noir. I kept thinking this is what we’d get if Claire Denis directed Taken.

Official Claire Denis’ Bastards hashtag: . I’ll leave it at that.

Jonathan Romney, Screen Daily

Wish Cannes sleep deprivation hadn’t hit me just in time for Claire Denis’s LES SALAUDS – the film I most need to watch again…

Fascinating anyway… Denis’s CHINATOWN, with nasty nods to Faulkner’s SANCTUARY. I need to sleep on it now (restless night guaranteed).

Jason Solomons, The Observer

the Claire Denis film Les Salauds has really ruined my day. What a piece of grubby rubbish.

Blake Williams, Indiewire

That was the saddest boo ever. Claire Denis just combined FRIDAY NIGHT and THE INTRUDER. Apparently I need to rewatch THE INTRUDER. (7.5)

Damon Wise, Empire

The Claire Denis film (Bastards) is hard work but fucking great

Adam Woodward, Little White Lies

Claire Denis’ BASTARDS is devilishly opaque and richly layered. Second viewing a must


Mark Adams, Screen Daily

“Puenzo’s fascination with the period and the Argentinean government opening its doors to many Nazi is evident as she impressively crafts an atmosphere of secrecy and mistrust in amongst the German speaking community, some of whom clearly have deep, dark secrets.”

Shaun Munro, Film School Rejects

“While a depraved premise such as this should be fascinating, Puenzo curiously makes of it a dreadfully snoozy affair, which surely would have benefited from lashings of dark humor, of which the film is seemingly completely bereft.”


Catherine Bray, Film4

Big standing ovation in the Debussy for director Lucia Wakolda’s adaptation of her Nazis-in-hiding novel Wakolda

William Goss, MSN Movies

Wakolda: it’s To Kill a Mockingbird if, instead of Boo Radley, a post-WWII Dr. Mengele lived next door. What an odd duck of a movie.

Glenn Heath Jr., Press Play

WAKOLDA (C+): This story of Nazi war criminal desiring a 12-year-old Argentine girl is surprisingly not seedy enough.

David Neary, Next Projection

Wakolda: Pretty family drama mutates into Nazi experimentation thriller almost fluidly. Gorgeous sky blue tones and a fine score are plusses

Blake Williams, Indiewire

WAKOLDA (3.7): I think for now I’m just kind of done with formal classicism; was against it from the first frame. Vaguely pedo, who cares.


Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“A minor work from the emerging master of African cinema, Mahamat Saleh-Haroun, this is elevated by a heightened female perspective and some rousing dance scenes.”

Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter

“The sleepy-paced, elementally simple plot initially requires a degree of patience, but the story ends up gently absorbing.”

Eric Kohn, Indiewire

“Haroun favors long takes and a gradual pace that unquestionably draws one into his protagonist’s world and makes his plight worth rooting for, but there’s neither enough plot nor environmental details to justify the bare bones scenario.”

Guy Lodge, Variety

“Cinematically, “Grigris” comes alive most electrically in Souleymane’s dance sequences, the camera lingering on the performer’s muscles as they knot and break with near-hypnotic suppleness.”


Geoff Andrew, Sight & Sound

Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s GRIGRIS a touching if slightly predictable tale of poverty, petty crime + ill-starred romance in Chad.

Dave Calhoun, Time Out London

CANNES: I like Haroun’s films but GRIGRIS was mildly engaging and lacks the parable-like precision of Screaming Man and Daratt. Great moves.

Adam Cook, MUBI

Haroun’s GRIGRIS is beautifully composed, moving, and stands out as one of the best in the competition

Jordan Cronk, Slant

GRIS GRIS (M. HAROUN): Yet to be totally convinced of Haroun’s talents. We’re gonna have to a-gris to disa-gris. C-

Mike D’Angelo, The A.V. Club

Grigris (Haroun): 48. Well, it’s somewhat lively, at least. But combining “falls for a hooker” + “steals from thugs” = cliché cité.

Kenji Fujishima, In Review Online

GRIGRIS (2013, Haroun): Haroun’s formal precision can only do so much to (barely) refresh cliché material. Nutty ending, though.

William Goss, MSN Movies

Grigris: a dancer from Chad with a bum leg smuggles petrol to pay for stepdad’s medical bills, falls in love with a hooker.

Glenn Heath Jr., Press Play

GRISGRIS (C): Lead dynamic crackles but overall tiresome, inert morality play that telegraphs its country life > city theme too heavily.

Peter Howell, Toronto Star

GRIGRIS: Love on the dance floor, desperation in stolen petrol in deeply etched Chadian portrait.

David Jenkins, Little White Lies

GRIGRIS (Haroun) My first Haroun film, and probably my last Haroun film. Borders on the incoherent.

Shaun Munro, Film School Rejects

Grisgris – 5/10. Best thing was a charactet called Poupou. Yes, I have a childish sense of humour

David Neary, Next Projection

Grigris: Old story well told with a remarkable one-of-a-kind physical performance at its core. Some great shots paper over dialogue cracks.

Craig Skinner, Hey U Guys

GRIGRIS (D) A thoroughly ordinary film with an extraordinary physical performer in the lead role. Dopey deus ex machina ending.

Jason Solomons, The Observer

must mention Grisgris, lovely African film about brilliant, crippled dancer and beautiful whore. Gentle cinema of broken dreams.

Only God Forgives (Nicolas Winding Refn) – IN COMPETITION
All Is Lost (JC Chandor) – SPECIAL SCREENING
La Jaula De Oro (Diego Quemada-Diez) – UN CERTAIN REGARD
Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight (Stephen Frears) – SPECIAL SCREENING
Blue is the Warmest Colour (Abdellatif Kechiche) – IN COMPETITION
My Sweet Pepper Land (Hiner Saleem) – UN CERTAIN REGARD

Ate Ver a Luz (Basil da Cunha) – DIRECTORS’ FORTNIGHT
Les Apaches (Thierry de Peretti) – DIRECTORS’ FORTNIGHT
Nos Heros Sont Morts ce Soir (D Perrault) – CRITICS’ WEEK
The Major (Yury Bykov) – CRITICS’ WEEK


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s