Big movies, strange mood as Cannes Film Festival prepares for opening night

LOIC VENANCE/ AFP

The excitement that usually builds to a crescendo ahead of the Cannes Film Festival's opening night has been reined in this year by rumours of potentially explosive #MeToo allegations, and a possible festival workers' strike that could shut down the event.

There is much to be thrilled about, with Francis Ford Coppola's Megalopolis, and Emma Stone - fresh off Poor Things success - teaming up again with Yorgos Lanthimos in Kinds of Kindness - among the big-name films premiering.

"The combination of being excited about the films and being concerned about disruption and maybe criminal allegations, that's combining into a very weird mood this year," Scott Roxborough, European bureau chief for The Hollywood Reporter, told Reuters on Monday.

Organisers have brought in a crisis management team, French daily Le Figaro reported last week, to deal with any fallout from the possible release of the names of 10 industry figures accused of sexual abuse that could coincide with the opening ceremony on Tuesday.

"When this expose is finally released, it's probably going to go off like a real bombshell," said Roxborough.

Certain films could be dropped from the schedule, Le Figaro said, or some of the accused could be asked not to appear on the red carpet, depending on the seriousness of the accusations.

There is also a potential strike by the festival's freelance workers over proposed changes to French labour law.

"We could see what we haven't seen since maybe 1968, before my time, that the film festival could actually shut down," said Roxborough about what effect the strike could have on the fest.

Against this tense backdrop, organisers have gone all out with one of the best line-ups in years, said Roxborough.

"You basically have a who's who of the best art house directors working today. The old folk and the newcomers, which is kind of what you expect at Cannes," he said.

For Roxborough, the sci-fi epic Megalopolis starring Adam Driver, which Coppola has been working on for decades and financed with his wine fortune, is the must-see film this year.

"It could be a massive flop or a tremendous hit, but everybody, of course, is desperate to see that movie."

Cannes has particularly given love to old Hollywood names in recent years, Coppola included, as evidenced by a rise in honorary awards handed out to well-known names like George Lucas, Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise and Harrison Ford.

Part of that is due to Cannes' desire to bring the spotlight back to those actors, who have been somewhat forgotten in the modern era of Marvel blockbuster movies, Roxborough said.

Still, "despite a lot of the greybeards that will be walking the red carpet, the majority of really top-end stars will all be quite young," he said.

Some of the under-35 big names include Jacob Elordi of teen drama Euphoria, who is in Paul Schrader's competition film Oh, Canada, as well as Anya Taylor-Joy as the titular Furiosa in the new Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga and pop star Selena Gomez in the musical crime comedy Emilia Perez.

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