Cannes 2009: Sex and moping

We’ve cast an eye over two mixed bags of sex ‘n’ angst in Cannes these past couple of days.

First up, Adrift (A Deriva), about a family vacation on a highly photogenic stretch of Brazilian beach.

There’s trouble in paradise, naturellment – namely the meltdown of writer Mathias’ (Vincent Cassel) marriage to Clarice (Deborah Bloch).

Mathias is having an affair with a slinky American (mostly mute Camilla Belle), a secret uncovered by his eldest kid Filipa (Laura Neiva), a 14-year-old experiencing her first summer of love.

Shown out of competition, it’s a perfectly polished piece of work – but struggles to stand out from the crowd: too few fresh insights to offset the familiarity, too little humour to leaven the strife.

Playing against type and acting in Portuguese, Cassel retains his usual spark but there’s a meandering, listless feel to the whole. What’s more, there’s only so far you can sympathise with mopey, monied folk holidaying in heaven.

The sex is a bit coy, too – not an accusation you can chuck at Map Of The Music Of Tokyo.

There’s palpable heat between wine-fancying Spaniard David (Sergei Lopez) and fishmarket worker Ryu (Babel’s Rinko Kikuchi) during their liaisons in a Tokyo love hotel.

Slight spanner in the works, though – Ryu’s a hitwoman on the side, hired to off David by the businessman who blames his daughter’s suicide on the European.

It’s contrived, convoluted set-up – but wrangled with a measure of elegance by director Isabel Coixet (My Life Without Me).

Performances veer from impressive (the physical stuff) to stilted (whenever the leads have to speak in a non-native tongue).

Good to see Lopez playing a more sensitive type than his usual leering sociopaths (Harry He’s Here To Help, Dirty Pretty Things), too.

Points deducted, though, for a post-credit bit that undercuts the tragic ending with a shot of someone shuffling towards camera disguised as a tree.

Definitely not a golden palm...