Cannes Diary—Day 2: It’s a Cry Day, Val Kilmer Gets His Due, and Everything Went Fine

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Festiville correspondent Brian Formo on day two of the 2021 edition of the Festival de Cannes, featuring Val Kilmer’s life and times, ticketing tribulations, and François Ozon’s latest.

Yesterday, I wrote that all the issues that folks were complaining about at Cannes were overblown, and a rocky lead-up gave way to a flawless first night. So of course, the next morning, the ticketing site was down for more than four hours. Eventually, I was able to get two of the three tickets I wanted for Benedetta and After Yang, but today was the first test of releasing the second wave of tickets and it was definitely not smooth. 

Hopefully the fest now knows what to do each morning at 7.00am when they release new tickets, because if the desire for Paul Verhoeven’s 17th Century lesbian nun movie was too hot to handle, the new Wes Anderson will be screened to empty theaters because the site will have crashed for the whole day. Rather than freak out, I kept checking the site while finishing a rewatch of the final episode of Todd Haynes’ mini-series Mildred Pierce. (I will see Haynes’ band documentary The Velvet Underground tomorrow on the Croisette.)

Last night’s opening ceremony film, Annette, has both passionate defenders and very vocal haters, so naturally most of the early portion of the day was either spent refreshing the 404 pages for tickets or rehashing stances from last night. And most of the discussion in the theaters today were on people’s very opinionated reactions to the musical oddity. Luckily, you’ll be able to judge for yourself in about a month, when Annette washes ashore on Prime Video August 20, after a small theatrical run.

Val

Who knew that a documentary about Val Kilmer would be a moving experience? Then again, who knew that Kilmer has been filming his life for 40 years, including home movies with his brother? Or that he helped start a playwriting class at Juilliard and produced the first student-written play at the esteemed acting school? Val knew, of course, but if anything, Val proves that the rest of us barely know anything about the movie stars we watch—and it reminds us that they're humans first.

Kilmer has archived his life for decades, and directors Leo Scott and Ting Poo find a cohesive narrative from it. Kilmer’s son, actor Jack Kilmer (Palo Alto) narrates the documentary because—though he’s cancer-free—Val’s voice is still nearly incomprehensible. There are a number of great on-set captured moments with Kevin Bacon and Sean Penn (and their butts), Marlon Brando, Kurt Russell, David Thewlis, and the boys of Top Gun

But what registers the most in Val are the family movies, Kilmer's family tragedy, and then his own tragedies. Not just the throat cancer—he'll likely never act with his own voice again—but also in how we look at him as a successful actor, but he never really got to do many of the projects that he sought to do. 

We see his self-made audition tapes for Full Metal Jacket and GoodFellas, and get the sense that Kilmer didn’t get to make many movies that he actually liked. It's a reminder that actors, just like us, might be in the field they want to be in but aren't doing the work they'd actually like to do. There is an aching for change that can't really be said aloud, for fear of appearing ungrateful. That’s something I feel on a personal level.

Val hit other Letterboxd viewers on a personal level, too. Kaia Goudreau calls it a “beautiful and emotional movie that felt SO genuine.” Lee Stobby writes that the documentary is “tender and deeply moving and intimate.”

Everything Went Fine

I went in blindly to François Ozon’s latest film in competition at Cannes. I always expect a sexy lark from the director of 8 Women and Double Lover but between a recent first-time watch of Frantz and Everything Went Fine, I will have to drop that assumption. That’s not a statement on the film at all, just with this right after Val, I unwittingly ended up doing a double feature of family health issues. 

Everything Went Fine has two sisters (Sophie Marceau and Géraldine Pailhas) navigating their comfort and discomfort that their father (André Dussollier) wants them to arrange an assisted suicide for him after suffering a stroke. Assisted suicide is illegal in France but it is legal in nearby Switzerland. It’s the type of drama that slowly reveals the characters and then the last act lets them loosen up and levity enters the picture.

It helps immensely that Marceau (Braveheart) is absolutely astounding as the main caretaking sister. And there are delicate little touches from Ozon to not only show her suffering with the weight of this decision but also the immense love that she has for her husband, her respect for her sister, and her complicated relationship with both of her parents. She radiates warmth and animosity with deft precision. Like Val before it, Everything Went Fine is a very human portrait.

As Letterboxd user The Oscar Expert notes, this “tender euthanasia drama makes the case for assisted death as an act of love.” Eltron3000 had his “first cry of Cannes.” Marastar101 “laughed, cried, and applauded.” But to hit harder on what my intro was saying, Patrick Fey asks a good question: “When exactly did François Ozon become a director exclusively for old people?”

Ultimately, Ozon and Kilmer’s films were good low key calmers after the storm of Annette. The screenings pick up immensely tomorrow, where some of the premieres include Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir Part II, Tom McCarthy’s Stillwater, Andrea Arnold’s Cow, and the aforementioned Kogonada’s After Yang.