Cannes Critics: Broken Embraces, Up, Tetro

With this year’s Cannes Film Festival well underway, reviews have started flooding out from the Croisette about the various features screened during the first few days of competition. Here’s a quick analysis of the reactions so far:

Broken Embraces
A very good, but somewhat befuddled reaction is the order of the day for the latest re-teaming of beloved Spanish director Pedro Almodovar and his “Volver” star Penelope Cruz.

A “restless, rangy and frankly enjoyable genre-juggler…its four-way in extremis love story dazzles, it never really catches fire” says Variety. The trade loved the various if some times dubious twists, and “some of the witty, pointed dialogue is among Almodovar’s best”.

Screen Daily cites the first half is more successful than the second, and the “bleak, distant tone coupled with the unassuaged pain of the leads is a new departure for the director”. Ultimately it will “thrill his loyal fanbase but perhaps leave a more general public dazed rather than dazzled”

Time Out calls it Almodovar’s “most inward-looking… longest, most complicated and self-reflexive [film] to date”. Penelope Cruz’s character “has more identities than Jason Bourne”, and overall sadly the film “doesn’t resonate like a ‘Talk to Her’ or ‘Volver'”.

Up
Unanimously gushing praise abound for Pixar’s latest CG animated effort which looks like it could get better notices than last year’s “Wall-E”.

“A highpoint of ingenuity and storytelling in the Pixar canon and indeed the animated form” says Screen Daily which adds that “Up” will “be the strongest contender for the animated feature Oscar next March, and could even pitch for consideration in the best picture category as well”.

“Winsome, touching and arguably the funniest Pixar effort ever” says The Hollywood Reporter. Though the story does suffer from “innate sentimentality”, it is tempered by “the laughs coming at an agreeably ticklish pace”.

Variety says this “exceptionally refined” film “proves disarming in its deep reserves of narrative imagination and surprise, as well as its poignant thematic balance of dreams deferred and dreams fulfilled”. Critic Todd McCarthy also calls the film’s design “the most subtle Pixar production to date”

“Visually luscious and spunky and intriguing at every turn, it’s an amusing (i.e., somewhat funny), sometimes touching, briskly paced film” says Hollywood Elsewhere who adds that “even by Pixar’s high standards it’s a notch or two above the norm.”

Tetro
A notably mixed response to Francis Ford Coppola’s family drama which is also his first original screenplay since 1974’s “The Conversation”.

“A work of modest ambition and appeal…frankly feels old-fashioned and labored” says Variety which complains that the big scenes in Coppola’s script “seem abruptly curtailed and somewhat unsatisfying”.

Indiewire, says the film has a “messy final act” and is “only a mildly interesting entry” on the filmmaker’s resume.

The Hollywood Reporter oddly calls it “derivative but also original” but adds that it “has style to burn, eye-catching acting by an international cast and a story that harkens back to many literary classic”.

Screen Daily says that the performances by Maribel Verdu and Vincent Gallo “save all but Tetro’s most cringeworthy lines”.