Boring or beautiful? Cannes winner splits critics

Mon May 24, 2010 6:20am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White and James Mackenzie

CANNES, France (Reuters) - Not enough good movies, too few stars and a choice of winner that had many scratching their heads -- the 2010 Cannes film festival is unlikely to be remembered as a classic.

Thai film "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives," one of 19 entries in competition, took the coveted Palme d'Or for best picture, delighting some critics but angering others.

"'Uncle Boonmee', Palm of Boredom" was the headline on Monday in French daily Le Figaro, which called the slow-paced examination of reincarnation by Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul "dull, incomprehensible and hallucinatory."

Italy's Corriere della Serra said it was "unforgiveable" that the Cannes jury led by Tim Burton had left out pre-awards favorite Mike Leigh and his movie "Another Year," but Britain's Guardian called the winner "lyrically beautiful."

The film, which moves from dinner table conversation with the ghost of Boonmee's dead wife and the hair-covered, red-eyed spirit of his son to an ecstatic encounter between a talking cat fish and a disfigured princess, is certainly distinctive.

Burton said he chose Weerasethakul, who nearly did not make it to Cannes due to unrest in Thailand, because he was so far from mainstream cinema, underlining how Cannes prides itself on discovering films that otherwise may struggle to find audiences.

"The world is getting smaller and films get more Westernized or Hollywood-ized and this is a film for me that I felt I was watching from another country, from another perspective."

"Of Gods and Men," by French filmmaker Xavier Beauvois, won the runner-up prize and would have been a popular winner.   Continued...