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Cannes 2009: Palme d'Or begins

One of the greatest mysteries of the Cannes Film Festival is that the competition for the Palme d’Or every year throws up a couple of truly average films. Sometimes, even, truly awful films (Wim Wenders’ The Palmermo Shooting, anyone?).

Given the scramble, the honour, of being selected on the 20-‘strong’ shortlist, it’s an enigma how any title chosen can be anything other than… well, good.

Some of it hits home, raw and emotional. Other sequences (a karaoke scene, moony shots of Nanjing) thrum with a tender melancholy. Most of it, though, is boring, nonsensical and off-puttingly convinced of its own worth, with even the rough n tumble fuck scenes sure to arouse yawns.

Spring Fever is nowhere near as bad as Lou Ye’s inscrutable 2003 competition entry Purple Butterfly, perhaps, but it’s also nowhere near as good as his acclaimed Suzhou River (2000), a far more engaging film concerned with the same themes – identity, desire, loneliness.