Cannes 2009: The Forgettables

It’s not all 3D wonderment, searching sex dramas and Brad Pitt here in Cannes.

Sometimes, the films just slip straight through the memory-cracks.

Take Irene, a cine-gimmick in search of a story. It’s a documentary shot entirely in first-person, a novelty that wears off long before the first reel’s unspooled.

It’s director Alain Cavalier’s attempt to explore his grief over late wife and actress Irene Tunc (who died in a 1972 car crash), but the only thing to be found here is soporific pretension.

The lowlight is straight-faced recreation of his own birth using a watermelon and metal tongs, but there’s plenty more to endure: droning voiceover narration, shots of his shadow and enough diary entries to make Samuel Pepys feel faint.

Then there was Wild Grass – better by half but for a film in competition, very little to write home about (but we’ll try anyway).

It’s the new one by indefatigable former New Waver Alain Resnais (Night And Fog, Hiroshima Mon Amour) who, not to patronise the aged, deserves to be cut some slack for still being in the game at 87.

Even so, the film’s airy, slight and a bit silly, similar to but baggier than his last, Private Fears In Public Places (2006).

Disparate lives interlock thanks to a stolen wallet. Everyone’s middle-aged or above and dissatisfied, but you don’t get the sense of melancholy that shadowed Private Fears.

In fact, as the misunderstandings multiply, it’s like a lesser episode of One Foot In The Grave with subtitles. The story digresses and spirals, as restless as the characters.

Still, it hardly irks like Irene; there’s Bond baddie Mathieu Almaric flexing his comic chops as a pushy cop and splodges of warm, gauzy, primary colour.
Maybe Resnais should’ve made it in 3D…