About Schmidt

About Schmidt

Damned with faint praise were The Son, another morality tale from Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (Rosetta); Unknown Pleasures, an epic of ennui from Jia Zhangke, the prodigiously talented Chinese director of the 2000 festival's discovery, Platform; and David Cronenberg's Spider, about a mentally ill man struggling against his own demons. In a normal week, any one of these three titles would be greeted with enthusiasm, but instead, in the hothouse atmosphere of Cannes, they were found wanting, mostly because they were too nuanced to jolt their exhausted audiences into engagement or even wakefulness. Although it snared the Palme d'Or, Roman Polanski's The Pianist came in for some of the worst knocks, shrugged off by many as one of those deathly serious period pieces that crop up on cable television, the sort that are more good for you than good. The film suffered on two unavoidable counts: weighty subject matter (it was the second genocide piece to screen for the press at 8:30 a.m.) and unfortunate timing. It bowed at the end of the festival after a series of triumphs that enraptured critics, from Alexandre Sokourov's virtuosic magical history tour, Russian Ark, to Alexander Payne's About Schmidt, a humanistic comedy that richly justifies the third act of Jack Nicholson's career.

from Un Certain Disregard, LA Weekly, May 29, 2002