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Cannes 2009: Inglourious Basterds Second Reaction

Inglourious Basterds finished 20 minutes ago. That’s 20 minutes that’s been filled with argument and counter-argument between TF staffers Jonathan Dean and Sam Ashurst.

As you will see from Sam’s post, he is a Basterd – a lover of Quentin Tarantino’s latest that just received its world premiere in Cannes. But I am less effusive.

While the opening, gripping chapter – set in a French peasant house in 1941 – is excellent and a final cinema (where else?) foyer scene is epic in its grandeur with sweeping cameras and impeccable set design, much of Basterds felt flat, with a schizophrenic spaghetti western style that blasts Ennio Morricone at the start and then David Bowie later on.

It is hugely confident, sure, with Tarantino clearly making the film he wanted complete with much blood, more gore, lengthy chats and even his mate Eli Roth and the humour works more often than not. This is confidence that will be of massive appeal to QT’s yes-men fanboys.

Acting-wise, no one disappoints – even if Pitt and the American contingent are acted off the screen by the exceptional scene-stealing Christoph Waltz (SS Colonel Hans Landa) and there are even witty newsreel asides and plenty of playful subtitle gags – always bound to go down well over here in Cannes.

But that the applause at the end was muted at best says a lot. This is a film debuting in Cannes that includes the line “I am French. We respect directors in this country” and yet when the huge, OTT final scene ends, where you’d expect big cheers and standing ovations, there was a deathly silence.

Perhaps this is nothing to do with Tarantinos’ filmmaking touch – still unique, always inventive – or even the director of Hostel taking second billing, but rather the tone of the movie itself.

It is – and QT would have to admit this– immature. From Pitt’s ’tache to a mad hatter Hitler, it’s war seen through the eyes of a film geek, taking outrageous liberties with history and national sensibilities.

Thus, the Germans leer, the Americans are brave and the Brits posh. Enjoyable? Sure. But for 2 hours and 40 minutes it’s a big ask to keep brattishness exhilarating.

So well worth watching and admirably ambitious and single-minded, but as you can see from, Inglourious Basterds will split viewers. We’re going to mull it over for a bit longer and video diary a debate later on.

This is war.

Click here to see Sam's more enthuasiastic reaction to Inglourious Basterds .