He’s the Irish man of the moment in Cannes with two prestigious competition films (both co-starring Nicole Kidman) and a career that is going from strength to strength.
First up is Jorgos Lanthimos’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer, the Greek director’s follow-up to his cult hit The Lobster, which also starred Farrell. Lanthimos calls himself an absurdist so whether there is more of that in his new psychological drama remains to be seen. The story centres on Farrell’s successful surgeon as his life begins to unravel after he brings a teenager (Barry Keoghan, whom most of us first saw in Love/Hate) into his family. Variety reports that “the Greek provocateur hasn’t lost any of his icy formalism or squid-ink humor”.
Then comes Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled. Farrell steps into the shoes of Clint Eastwood, the star of Don Siegel’s 1971 film, though Coppola apparently takes a very different stance on Thomas P Cullinan’s 1966 novel. Expect the sexual tension and the menace to be ramped up in a more feminist take on the story, which follows the rivalry between two women (Kidman and Elle Fanning) as they tend for Farrell’s injured Union soldier after he arrives at their all-female Southern boarding school during the American Civil War.
Can the kid from Dublin sustain the Cannes pressure? It’s a tall order as neither Farrell nor Kidman doing promotion for The Killing of a Sacred Deer at the fest. Still, Keoghan is 24 now and an established actor after his turns in Mammal and Trespass Against Us. In July, we’ll also see him in Dunkirk alongside the likes of Cillian Murphy and Harry Styles, so he really is experiencing a steep rise in his ascent to stardom.
LES AUTRES IRLANDAIS
Among the other Irish films hoping to generate some business at the festival are Maze, the tale of the 1983 IRA mass escape from the H-Blocks. Filmed last year at the former Cork prison, the cast includes Tom Vaughan-Lawlor and Eileen Walsh. Mark O’Halloran’s Halal Daddy also shows, as do two impressive documentaries: It’s Not Yet Dark, about Irish film-maker Simon Fitzmaurice and his battle with motor neurone disease; and boarding school tale In Loco Parentis.
As if the inclusion of two television series, Top of the Lake 2 and Twin Peaks is not enough, Cannes has allowed two starry Netflix films into its hallowed programme, essentially filling the gap left by the absence of Hollywood blockbusters, once mooted to be Dunkirk and Alien: Covenant. (We now know why the sub par Alien wasn’t up for such scrutiny, while it was just too early for Dunkirk to give so much away.)
Now it has been revealed that Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories starring Adam Sandler (a huge success with Netflix) will hold a prime spot on Friday morning, while Okja, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Tilda Swinton, will screen on the first Sunday.
Following a huge furore from French cinema owners, the rules have already been changed for future years so that Netflix films in the programme must have a cinema run.
Fianna Fáil’s John O’Donoghue infamously used the government jet for two trips to the 2006 festival, but this year it’ll be a couple of US politicians who are in the limelight.
Arnold Schwarzenegger will be in Cannes promoting an environmental documentary, Wonders of the Sea 3D, which he produced and also narrates.
It’s directed by Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of Jacques, who of course figured in the dramatised version of his father’s life, The Odyssey, which opened this year’s Cork French Film Festival.
Former US vice president Al Gore will be pushing An Inconvenient Sequel.
This follows up on the effects of climate change since 2006’s An Inconvenient Truth, showing how we have helped damage our planet by using fossil fuels.