Updating Denis Johnson’s Nicaragua-set novel from the Revolution to the present-day and working in English and Spanish, French auteur Claire Denis is venturing into Graham Greene territory here—espionage and dirty deeds in the tropics. It’s worth remembering that she herself grew up in French colonial West Africa; westerners getting hot and bothered in foreign climes pop up in Beau Travail, White Material, L’intrus, and her first film, Chocolat.
The focus here is on a young American, Trish (Margaret Qualley), a freelance journalist who has gotten in over her head and whose passport has been seized after she embarrassed the authorities. Marooned indefinitely in an unnamed Managua, Trish is forced to trade sex for protection and rum money. She tries to put on a tough and cynical front, but secretly she’s desperate. Then she meets Daniel (Joe Alwyn), a dashing English businessman. At first, she thinks he could be her ticket out of here. Gradually she realizes he’s in worse trouble than she is.
Too languid and languorous to be described as a thriller, but more plot-driven than most Denis films, Stars at Noon is a moody, almost malevolent romance, a tropical neo-noir; love and disillusion in the time of COVID.
Grand Prix (tied), Cannes 2022
Margaret Qualley, Joe Alwyn, Danny Ramirez, Benny Safdie, Nick Romano, Stephan Proaño, Monica Bartholomew, Carlos Bennett
In English and Spanish with English subtitles
Saturday October 08
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The Grizzlie Truth
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Decision to Leave
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Stars at Noon
In Claire Denis's Cannes Jury prize winner, a US journalist is marooned in Managua, stripped of her passport and forced to trade sex for protection. An English businessman seems a good prospect, but gradually she sees he's in more trouble than she is.
Veteran director Jerzy Skolimowski returns in triumphant form with this tale of animal life. Sometimes harsh, sometimes sweet, always beautiful, EO tells the story of a donkey and its journey through a world dominated by humans.
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Triangle of Sadness
A luxury cruise for the super rich goes very, very wrong in this Cannes-winning social satire from the director of The Square. Uproariously funny at times and deeply cynical, this is a must-see.
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Arnaud De Moléron