Cannes has never been a place to shy away from politics. It’s not enough that official competition entry Melancholia’s director Lars von Trier stirred things up Wednesday by singling out Hitler and Nazis for his admiration, forcing the festival to ask for an apology. The last couple of days have also seen presidential politics creep into the fest lineup in a very prominent way with eyebrow-raising equal-opportunity disses thrown at President Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in two very different films screening in the official selection.
Before the Festival began May 11, we reported rampant rumors that Sarkozy might be attending the Cannes kickoff since his wife, Carla Bruni, was appearing in the opening-night film, Midnight In Paris. As it turned out, neither showed on the red carpet, but Wednesday Sarkozy finally made his debut in Cannes — sort of. The night’s main event, an out-of-competition premiere showing of The Conquest, launched the nationwide start of what can only be described as a French Primary Colors (a veiled story of Bill Clinton). Unlike that movie, this one, about Sarkozy’s rise to power, was not even thinly disguised, using real names and actors who look exactly like the real-life players. Sarkozy cannot be very happy with this portrait, which paints him as a master manipulator who was dumped by his wife of 20 years and then participates in a charade to convince voters he is still happily married in order to get elected — even though the “future” First Lady has shacked up with another guy. It may be tres scandalous but it is also very entertaining, surprisingly one of the best times I have had in the Palais the entire festival. (more…)