Cannes judges enamoured
Critics yesterday lauded the Cannes film festival jury for awarding director Michael Haneke's Love (Amour) the coveted Palme d'Or for best picture.
The Austrian has now won the top prize at the world's biggest cinema showcase twice, joining a small elite of multiple winners and cementing his place as a master of filmmaking.
Slow and understated, Love's portrayal of an elderly French couple facing the last stages of life had audiences in tears and critics rushing off to write five-star reviews virtually across the board.
Its victory was particularly welcome in France, where the stars of the movie, both in their 80s, live.
"The names of Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant . will play in the public eye like a French victory," said Le Parisien newspaper.
Conspicuous by their absence at the awards ceremony that wrap-ped up the 12-day festival on the French Riviera were US productions, five of which made it into the main competition of 22 entries.
Not even the acting talent of A-listers Nicole Kidman and Brad Pitt, alongside hot emerging Hollywood names such as Jessica Chastain, Tom Hardy and Zac Efron, was enough to win over the judges, led by Italian director Nanni Morett.
Turn the clock back a year and US director Terrence Malick was winning the Palme d'Or for The Tree of Life and Kirsten Dunst scooped the actress award for her role in Lars von Trier's apocalyptic epic Melancholia.
Cannes critics were cool towards most US productions, though New Zealand's Andrew Dominik's Killing Them Softly, starring Brad Pitt as a mob enforcer in a recession-hit US city, was reasonably popular.
"None set the town on fire and clearly can't count on widespread critical support down the line," said The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy in reaction to the awards.
"The feeling of letdown about these films, running from vague to severe, created the feeling of a mixed-bag festival."