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Critics are eyeing a French Palme d’Or

Latest update : 2008-05-17

French critics at the Cannes Film Festival are putting their hopes on Arnaud Desplechin’s ‘A Christmas Story’, but the contest for the coveted 'golden palm' has only begun.

For years the French media lamented the state of the country's cinema. Then Arnaud Desplechin stepped onto the stage and picked up quite a few nominations in the cinema circuit for his 2005 film "King and Queen".

This year, Desplechin is back with "A Christmas Story", a poignant story about a broken family that is forced to reunite over an emergency bone marrow transplant that will save the mother (played by Catherine Deneuve).

Secret longing, frustration and pain bubble to the surface, reminiscent of American playwright Edward Albee's famous stage play, "Who's Afraid of Virgia Woolfe," later adapted for the big screen by Mike Nichols in 1966. Albee's characters share the same repressed torment as Desplechin's.

The difference, however, lies in Desplechin's superlative mise en scène. The arrangement of convincing character portrayals, the harmony between the photography and the music, and the sheer beauty of human emotions make Desplechin a true heir of the auteur films characteristic of French cinematic history.

Nevertheless, it is too early to be making sweeping statements about the Palme d'Or, despite France's two-decade long yearning for the coveted prize.

Clint Eastwood and Atom Egoyan are yet to present their films, and Ari Folman's animated documentary "Waltz with Bashir" has left an indelible impression on the Cannes audience.

"A Christmas Story" may certainly qualify for a prize at Cannes, but for the moment, the Best Director award is a safer and more prudent bet.

Date created : 2008-05-17