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FESTIVAL IN CANNES (director/writer/editor: Henry Jaglom; cinematographer: Hanania Baer; music: Gaili Schoen; cast: Anouk Aimee (Millie Marquand), Greta Scacchi (Alice Palmer), Maximillian Schell (Viktor Kovner), Ron Silver (Rick Yorkin), Peter Bogdanovich (Milo), Zack Norman (Kaz Naiman), Alex Craig Mann (Barry), Camilla Campanale (Gina), Jenny Gabrielle (Blue), Kim Kolarich (Libby. Palmer’s associate), Rachel Bailit (Nikki, Palmer’s associate); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: John Goldstone; Paramount Classics; 2001)
“Henry Jaglom’s lighthearted satire of Hollywood wheeler-dealers goes as far as the director is willing to bite…”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Henry Jaglom’s lighthearted satire of Hollywood wheeler-dealers goes as far as the director is willing to bite, but once the subplot romance stories kick in the film falls flat on all its insider angles. This indy film brings on an arty approach from the wannabe auteur Jaglom, as he desperately tries to get the handle on the smelly business side to the showbiz scene taking place during the Cannes Film Festival. The film had oodles of charm, but still fell apart into an annoying talk-fest and suffered further from the awkward filmmaking style of constantly going back and forth among the different romantic couples. Its scenic photography of the supposedly gorgeous Cannes, as the film was actually filmed during the festival, was less than scintillating. The director’s rigid shooting style of having the actors talk directly into the camera, soon became not only boring but grating. The film was also not helped by its slight story and its lack of a plot, and by the romance stories being so unmoving.

The setup involves the respected but naive actress-turned-screenwriter Alice Palmer (Greta Scacchi), who wants to direct her own film—about “a normal Midwestern woman who wants to rediscover herself “—and surprisingly gets to pitch it to French screen giant Millie Marquand (Anouk Aimée–she must be in her early 60s), thanks to the unwelcome intrusion of the pesty phony Kaz (Zack Norman). Kaz pretends he’s a wealthy producer with big connections, and pounces on Alice and her two associates (Kim Kolarich and Rachel Bailit) in an outdoor cafe. He’s about doing power deals on the cell phone and soon tells her he’s arranged for backers to give her three million dollars for the pic if she can talk Millie Marquand into taking the starring part (Alice wanted Gena Rowlands). In Alice’s less than convincing pitch, she surprisingly gets Millie to fall for this well-intentioned but superficial script (exactly in the same manner the filmmaker is trying to sucker the viewer into liking this mediocre vehicle). Meanwhile the paunchy and sharklike big-time Hollywood producer, Rick Yorkin (Ron Silver), is really hard-pressed to sign Millie to a new big-budget $90 million Tom Hanks movie, because the French star playing the daughter of Millie won’t do the film without Millie; and, Hanks, who has a “small window”, must do it before the end of the year but won’t unless the actress playing the daughter and his love interest is in it. Millie needs the dough since her ex-hubby, the artistic director, Viktor (Maximilian Schell), made bad investments–but she’s not thrilled about how small her part is. Viktor arrives at the festival with a young protégé starlet from Italy, Gina (Campanale), but leaves her for his ex-wife when he becomes intrigued that Millie asks him for his advice on which role to take. Gina, who made up a story that she comes from a wealthy Venetian family, soon takes up with the ever intrusive Kaz, who is actually a chauffeur. The two have in common that they are both liars — which seems to bring them closer together. But their characters weren’t very amusing and were too sketchily drawn to mean much.

The only performance of note was Ron Silver’s snakelike one of a Hollywood insider, as he seemed convincing as a power hungry player who could also throw on the charm when needed. Young actress Jenny Gabrielle is in her debut film role playing the shy Blue without showing any sparks for the part, whose first ‘film within the film’ is a surprise word-of-mouth indy hit at the festival. But she has sex on her brain and gets involved with Yorkin’s ambitious assistant (Mann), who wants to use her to start his career as a manager. Peter Bogdanovich plays a director who is tempted by Yorkin’s offer to direct Hanks, and is also considering Kaz’s offer to dump Alice as director for the small art-house film. But unbeknownst to him, Yorkin has arranged it so that Viktor could direct the film if he brings in Millie. These characters were underdeveloped and failed to bring any interesting revelations about themselves or Hollywood, and their romantic situations were more ludicrous than amusing.

As it stands, “Cannes” felt like one monotonous cell phone conversation between showbiz types — one you should consider yourself fortunate if you are out of earshot.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”