Unhappy ending in Cannes, best film hard to call

Sat May 23, 2009 6:24pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

CANNES, France (Reuters) - The Cannes film festival opened 12 days ago with the crowd-pleasing Disney animation "Up", but a string of critical duds toward the close means its ending has been decidedly downbeat.

The 20 films in the main competition have been variously booed, cheered, jeered and shunned as Cannes' notoriously picky audiences failed to agree on one, or even a handful of entries, worthy of the coveted Palme d'Or.

"It's been very uneven," said Jay Weissberg of trade publication Variety ahead of the closing ceremony on Sunday.

"There was a lot of expectation because of the names called out, but very few people would say the directors here have contributed their best works."

Underlining the lack of consensus, others are more positive.

"Overall a very good selection as far as the whole of the festival is concerned and a very, very good level as far as the competition is concerned," said Jean-Michel Frodon, editor of Cahiers du Cinema, the bible of highbrow French film criticism.

The race for best picture is wide open, although French prison drama "A Prophet" directed by Jacques Audiard would be a universally popular winner.

New Zealand's Jane Campion, who won the Golden Palm in 1993 with "The Piano", is another favorite with her biopic of Romantic poet John Keats and his lover Fanny Brawne in "Bright Star", as is Spain's Pedro Almodovar and his "Broken Embraces" starring Penelope Cruz.   Continued...

<p>Director Pedro Almodovar (L) and cast member Penelope Cruz arrive on the red carpet for the screening of the film "Los Abrazos Rotos" at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival May 19, 2009. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann</p>