The Specials, the latest feature from The Intouchables filmmaking duo Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, has been set to close out the 72nd Cannes Film Festival — just don’t call it the “Closing Film.” Cannes organizers said today that they’re doing away with the distinction, preferring to brand the final pic of the Riviera shindig as the “Last Screening.” There are a couple of pop culture winks in the switch: In French, the final movie will henceforth officially be referred to as “La Dernière Séance” which is the local title of Peter Bogdanovich’s 1971 Oscar winner The Last Picture Show, as well as a tune by French actor/singer Eddy Mitchell.
The Specials, a social comedy that was submitted at the last minute to the selection committee, will screen in the Lumière Theater after the Closing ceremony on Saturday May 25.
Vincent Cassel and Reda Kateb star alongside a cast of non-professional actors and autistic teens. As Bruno and Malik, they are in charge of two separate nonprofit organizations and train young people from underprivileged areas to be caregivers for extreme cases that have been refused by all other institutions. It’s described as an exceptional partnership, outside of traditional settings, for some extraordinary characters.
In announcing the film today, the fest said, “The directing puts all the characters on the same level, in a film that acutely evokes social and contemporary issues, where the collective world is once again at the heart of everything: social workers, volunteers, health professionals all striving to take care of autistic teens. As usual, the two filmmakers go all out with their love of humanity, their belief in the life of the group, and humor as the first and ultimate defense in human relationships.”
For fest chief Thierry Frémaux, the film is “more than contemporary and carries great promises for the future… With The Specials as the Last Screening, and as with the other French films presented in the Official Selection, cinema in 2019 will showcase its ability to talk about cities, streets, shopping centers, filming all the faces of youth, their commitments, their music, the places they live in, their rage for life and their questioning of the world.”
Toledano and Nakache, whose Intouchables remains the highest-grossing French-language film outside its home country and the No. 2 biggest local hit ever, co-wrote The Specials. This is the pair’s 7th feature, and follows 2017’s C’est La Vie! Gaumont is releasing on October 23 in France and handling international sales.
By renaming the closing film the “Last Screening,” the fest says it is looking to “reconnect with its tradition of final great screenings,” citing Steven Spielberg’s E.T., Ridley Scott’s Thelma And Louise and Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote last year.