Cannes film festival abuzz as dark tales shine

Mon May 21, 2012 5:55pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

CANNES, France (Reuters) - The Cannes film festival is buzzing this year with a string of hit movies in the official lineup, a procession of stars on the red carpet and plenty of eagerly awaited titles still to come.

The unseasonably cold, wet weather has done little to dampen spirits among the famously picky critics and journalists on the French Riviera to interview, photograph and film everyone from A-list celebrities to obscure auteur directors.

While the distractions for the 4,000-strong media presence seem endless amid stunts, parties and big movie deals, the backbone of the festival remains the main competition, this year comprising 22 movies with a strong U.S. presence.

But it is two European film makers, both previous winners of the coveted Palme d'Or for best picture, who have set the pace as Cannes hit its halfway point on Monday.

Austrian Michael Haneke, who won in 2009 with "The White Ribbon" and wowed audiences four years earlier with "Hidden", has done it again this year with "Love" ("Amour"), a somber, French-language drama about an elderly couple facing death.

While Cannes thrives on Hollywood hype and celebrity, it also has a reputation for showcasing serious, hard-hitting dramas made by respected directors for little money.

Once they wiped away the tears, critics gave Love a five-star reception for its unflinching portrayal of a woman's illness and death, and how she and her devoted husband cope with the final weeks.

"MASTERPIECE"   Continued...

Actress Mylene Jampanoi (L) and director Xavier Dolan arrive on the red carpet ahead of the screening of the film "Amour", by director Michael Haneke in competition at the 65th Cannes Film Festival, May 20, 2012. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann