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cannes 2010

Cannes Reviews: Pompous Robin Hood, Plus Two Great Foreign Films

Cannes-festival opener Robin Hood has been met with a tepid response so far, and David Edelstein can't find much to enjoy in the film, either:


Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood is a pompous, interminable hash. Billed as a precursor to the legend we know, it’s rich in bogus historical context, along with enough mud, blood, and clutter to overwhelm our happy memories of Errol Flynn’s grin and Olivia de Havilland’s radiance. Here, Robin and Marian are played by a scowling Russell Crowe and a grim Cate Blanchett, who has the face of a wooden squaw stained by decades of cigar smoke. I can’t remember a more un-fun-looking couple.

You can read Edelstein's full review here.

Two very different films earned their places in the festival’s competition lineup yesterday, led by excellent performances. From The Death of Mr. Lazarescu to 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and Two Days, the Romanians have nearly cornered the market on warm, lifelike divorce drama. In Tuesday, After Christmas, Mimi Branescu stole the show as a charming, middle-aged man who cheats on his wife and sincerely falls for his mistress. Radu Muntean begins with a long, single shot of a nude, middle-aged, paunchy Paul (the extraordinarily charming Branescu) in bed with a nude, younger, thinner Raluca (Maria Popistasu), who kiss and tease and wryly charm one another till Paul falls off the bed and onto his ass, laughing. The scene is a capsule of utterly natural, adoring love — and, yes, it’s an affair. But while divorce films are typically either throw-the-vase-against-the-wall humdingers, or heavy, slo-mo soul crushers, this is the rare one that doesn't judge.

And in The Housemaid, Korean star Jeon Do-Yeon reinvented a classic Korean screen role, as a housemaid who is impregnated by her fabulously wealthy boss.
Half a century ago, the original film focused on a middle-class couple who hired a poor factory girl, who turned out to have manipulative goals of her own — seducing the husband and destroying the family. In Im Sangsoo's remake, the poor girl isn’t a malicious home wrecker; she’s a poor romantic caught up in an extremely bad cul-de-sac of capitalism. Do-Yeon plays a likable, naïve, and poor restaurant employee hired by a powerful Patrick Bateman–type businessman and his conniving, pregnant trophy wife. The couple’s rich meals look like leftovers from Jeunet’s Delicatessen; the wife’s plastic-faced mother is a character from Brazil; and the house looks like an abandoned set from Eyes Wide Shut. The husband demands the maid’s body, but she desires him, too, and that’s where Jeon’s understated performance makes the film less a domestic thriller and more of a psychological mystery — even as Im pushes the visuals into the realm of carnival-mirror satire.

Photo: David Appleby/Courtesy of Universal Pictures