Saturday, May 24, 2014

Egoyan’s ‘The Captive’ And Ceylan’s ‘Winter Sleep’ Mesmerise

Exclusive Coverage of the Cannes Film Festival
Sun May 18, 2014

The Cannes management has to be hailed for their superb screening facilities and, more so, their consideration and all-out efforts to help their  4,000-strong registered delegates. When  there was an unprecedented rush at the 8.30 am screening for Canadian director Atom Egoyan’s latest film The Captive,  the guards said that the theatre was full, but told us politely to wait. In a matter of minutes, the Cannes management had arranged another nearby venue for an extra screening scheduled at 9 am. And so, everyone was accommodated.  Ruffled feathers turned into into satisfied purring. That is Cannes for you.

Atom Egoyan has his own stamp of delving deep into the human psyche to probe what shapes people to be what they are and how they behave. He uses mystical,  abstract touches to suggest that people are manipulated in some way  beyond their understanding. His latest film The Captive is far more sensational than his earlier films, and one cannot help feeling that this time, it is the audience that is being manipulated.

The Captive is on an important subject – kidnapping of the girl child. The film is about a couple not that at ease with each other, who both  dote on their 9-year-old gifted daughter, training to hit the highest  ice-skating championship with her 10-year-old male partner. When her father comes to collect her in his truck, she lounges engaging in conversation beyond her years. When he returns minutes later, she is not there. The girl’s  agonised parents go to the police. The wife blames the husband for his neglect. The State detective force take over the case, interrogating the grief-stricken parents in their own rough, accusing ways, trying to find holes in their evidence or  the truth of what they are saying.

Eight years later the detective squad locate the girl on  television’s paedophile channels. With that the mystery unravels of a how television can be used for almost any kind of reality viewing  ruled by crazed minds. The last third of the film however becomes a routine common-garden thriller. The plot does not hold – it is bizarre and loosely strung together, which  mitigates the film’s high production values.

As happens sometimes, there was only one screening of the high-profile  film, Winter Sleep, directed by yet another of Cannes’s favoured giants, the Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan . Despite being  3.20 hours long, the largest festival theatre, the Lumiere, was jam-packed and hardly anyone left the hall.  Ceylan’s films usually present a finely observed study of disparities and injustice in society.  In this case, Ceylan takes a family of landed gentry headed by a liberal intellectual writer residing in a tastefully designed hotel that he owns. He lives with his much younger wife who leads an independent life as an activist and his disgruntled, carping  sister who enjoys taunting both her brother and his wife.   The film rips away the layers that conceal the true nature of their feelings towards each other. A strong subtext is the family’s attitude towards their struggling, penniless tenants, thereby revealing their true feelings of a class divide.

The Directors Fortnight with 19 strong films this year is the only section in Cannes that operates as an independent entity and co-exists almost as a side-festival . It believes that film must be seen as strictly as an auteur (director) led art form among filmmakers.  The opening film was Bande De Files (Girlhood) from France, directed by CĂ©line Sciamma, on a girl who leaves her family setting and quits her school and neighbourhood run by unruly boys. She changes her name and with a new identity joins a free-spirited gang of women in the hope of starting a new life.

Courtesy: - India's first independent on-line daily which was launched on January 27, 2014.reproducing Uma da Cunha's column

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