THR Critics Pick Their Favorites – The Hollywood Reporter

After Sun
Cannes/Critics Week


(Critics Week)
In Charlotte Wells’ sharp and tender feature debut, a young Scottish father (brought to a lively and mysterious life by Paul Mescal) goes on a summer vacation with his pre-teen daughter (a real find Frankie Corio). The result is a spellbinding duo that explores the gap between the sensory detail of a sunny vacation and the characters’ unknowable inner lives. —SHERI LINDEN


James Gray (Ad Astra, Construction sites) returns to the Queens neighborhood where he grew up for this loving but unvarnished family snapshot that traces the seeds from which the artist evolved and the lessons that shaped his character. It’s a refreshingly low-key drama, with flawless performances from Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong, Anthony Hopkins, and newcomers Banks Repeta and Jaylin Webb. —DAVID ROONEY


(In some perspective)
The moving second feature film by Moroccan director and screenwriter Maryam Touzani maps a melancholic relationship triangle involving an artisan tailor, his dying wife and his apprentice. The slow-burning but emotionally charged and beautifully acted drama is expected to draw attention due to the scarcity of queer films in Maghreb cinema alone. But it’s compelling storytelling in every way. —RD


This year’s Best Actor winner, Song Kang-ho (Parasite) leads the ensemble in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s poignant drama about an alternative Korean family seeking a home for an abandoned baby. It’s not at the level of the 2018 Palme d’Or from the Japanese director, Shoplifters, but its smooth road-movie engine pulls you in, and each of the key players makes an indelible impression. —RD


Arnaud Desplechin’s propulsive drama revolves around middle-aged siblings (Marion Cotillard and Melvil Poupaud, at the top of their game) forced to deal with their parents’ mortality and their own lifelong blood feud. decades. Desplechin is a keen observer of human behavior, creating non-judgmental zones in which to embrace even the most unbearable self-absorption. — SL


Winner of a shared grand prize for second place, Belgian filmmaker Lukas Dhont’s heartbreaking but emotionally charged drama is the story of two 13-year-old best boys (Gustave De Waele and Eden Dambrine) whose intense bond is put to the test when they start secondary school. But as audiences in Cannes discovered with shock, it’s also about so much more: betrayal, shame, denial, love and ultimately healing and growth. — LESLIE FELPERIN

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Decision to leave
Courtesy of the Cannes Film Festival


South Korean Park Chan-wook (winner of this year’s best director award) delivers luscious neo-noir whose sober surface gradually gives way to bubbling currents of sensuality and danger. Exploring the magnetic attraction between an insomniac detective and a murder suspect strangely unmoved by the death of her husband, the film is crafted with sly humor, ravishing visuals, and commanding maturity. The result is intoxicating. —RD


(Directors’ Fortnight)
Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor take us not only into the world of invasive medical procedures in Parisian hospitals, but as far into the human body as a feature-length documentary has ever gone. For those who can bear it, this fascinating look at modern surgery is a memorable experience, making us reflect on our own humanity as we watch people reduced to pure flesh and blood. —JORDAN MINTZER


Polish author Jerzy Skolimowski recounts several adventures in the life of a donkey traveling through Europe as he passes through different hands and tries to find some peace. A piece that accompanies the great by Robert Bresson Random balthazar, the film (which won a shared third place from the jury) is a captivating and immersive marriage of breathtaking imagery and minimalist narrative. —JM

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funny pages
Courtesy of A24


(Directors’ Fortnight)
The cinematic equivalent of a dark and morbidly hilarious graphic novel, this directorial debut of The squid and the whale 17-year-old star Owen Kline is leaving his comfortable suburban home to try and become a cartoonist in Trenton, New Jersey. It’s grungy and bitterly funny, with an unforgettable cast of supporting characters. —JM


(In some perspective)
A young priest travels from Denmark to Iceland at the end of the 19th century, where his mission is flouted by the nature and corruptibility of his faith in the heartbreaking epic of Hlynur Pálmason. That description suggests brooding presumption, but there’s a wonderfully odd vein of sly humor that runs through the film, as well as an unpredictability that keeps you glued. —RD


(In some perspective)
Saim Sadiq’s feature debut pensively observes how gender norms, obligation and vague notions of honor constrict, then suffocate, the members of a Pakistani family. The individual and collective fallout when one of them falls in love with a trans woman is a process the film chronicles with painful consideration. — LOVIA GYARKYE


Like a 19e A century novel by Zola or Dickens condensed into a three-hour story, Saeed Roustaee’s third feature film follows five siblings struggling to stay afloat in a cannibalistic Iran choked with fraud, clan rivalries and an economy on the brink. of the disaster. Filled with powerful turns, the sprawling drama reveals the 32-year-old writer-director to be a masterful filmmaker whose voice is to be reckoned with. —JM


(Cannes premiere)
A dark drama reminiscent of movies like Zodiac, Dominik Moll’s latest film follows two hardened French detectives (the well-matched Bastien Bouillon and Bouli Lanners) trying to solve a gruesome murder that constantly escapes their clutches. Tense and piercing, the film uses a genre model to delve into issues of violence, gender and policing in contemporary France. —JM


(Directors’ Fortnight)
A sublime Léa Seydoux plays a single mother juggling an ailing father and a new lover in Mia Hansen-Love’s latest miraculously quietly. Driven by a fast pace and touches of alternately biting and sweet humour, it’s further proof that few filmmakers address the passage of time, the forces of change, and how we grope and struggle, but ultimately adapt. , with such understated emotion. — JON FROSCH


Romanian author and winner of the Palme d’or (for the years 2007 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days) Cristian Mungiu examines his country’s ecological, racial, social and political tensions under the microscope in this masterful, slow-burning drama set in rural Transylvania – a land at the crossroads of several nations and languages ​​that clash over the Christmas holidays. . —JM


(In some perspective)
At the head of a cast composed for the most part of non-professionals and of unfailing intensity, Julie Ledru embodies a biker who claims her place in the brotherhood of outlaw “rodeos”. The conflicts and turmoil of the Paris suburbs have been depicted before, but never through the eyes of such an unclassifiable protagonist. Lola Quivoron’s uplifting genre mashup is celebratory and lamenting, gritty and transcendent. — SL


The Oregon College of Art and Craft in Portland provides a sublime setting for Kelly Reichardt’s thoughtful, touching, and surprisingly funny character study of a woman (Michelle Williams) making art while navigating the maddening whirlwind of daily problems outside his garage workshop. The film once again demonstrates that Reichardt’s work with Williams is among the most rewarding collaborations in contemporary American independent cinema. —RD


A pair of West African children keep tabs on each other as they try to navigate the Belgian immigration system and a criminal underworld in Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s tense latest episode. This is perhaps the brothers’ saddest film, but also their most emotionally engaging in a while – a tragedy told with utter clarity, centered on protagonists who are entirely deserving of our sympathy and empathy. —LF


(Directors’ Fortnight)
Erige Sehiri’s first discreet and intimate story recounts and animates the life of a group of Tunisian fig pickers. Following the characters as they pick fruit, gossip, and squabble, the film is an enjoyable and immersive portrait of brotherhood, imbued with finely detailed realism and soulfulness. —LG

A version of this story first appeared in the May 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

About Monty S. Maynard

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