Xavier Dolan competes for the Palme d’Or

It’s Wednesday that we will finally be able to see Matthias and Maxime, the eighth feature by Xavier Dolan. I can already tell you that the Quebec director has big competition for the Palme d’Or.
The Cannes Film Festival looks like a marathon. Now that the course of the mid-distance is exceeded, we feel a little weariness. Then we think we’ll soon have crossed the distance. It’s getting better.

So far, this 72nd edition fulfills its promises – the big names have reached the hearts of festival-goers. Ken Loach and Terrence Malick have delivered admirable films, in a very different register. In the opinion of all, except me, Pedro Almodóvar has his chances, he who has never won the Palme d’Or. And there is also the pleasant surprise of Les Misérables de Ladj Ly. We never know.

Especially that a jury, in essence, has its own dynamic and is therefore totally unpredictable. There is also the Tarantino, we will see Tuesday. Dolan already has in his wallet a Jury Prize, the equivalent of the bronze medal, for Mommy (2014), and a Grand Prize, silver, for Just the End of the World (2016). Of course he’s hoping for the Palme d’Or …

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The Dardenne brothers already have two of them (and other prizes in Cannes). A hat trick is it possible with The young Ahmed ? I would be surprised even if their 11th feature has many qualities, on a radioactive subject: the radicalization of a 13 year old.

In their usual uncluttered style (camera range, sequence shots, no music, etc.), the duo is interested in the dynamic that leads Ahmed (Idir Ben Addi) to want to kill his teacher “heretic” (Myriem Akheddiou). His derisory attempt led him to the correctional center, but he was determined to do his work no matter what.

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Belgian filmmakers do not judge or offer psychological insight into what drives teenagers into almost compulsive religious zeal. Making it even more terrifying. The young Muslim refuses all the hands that are stretched to him, including that of his mother, locked in his duplicity and a logic that makes a ticking time bomb, especially in the last third, which takes on suspense.

The open end, however, seemed flat to me, as if the pair had sought a loophole rather than assuming their dramatic curve.

The young Ahmed is not devoid of empathy. And he addresses a troubling subject. A little clumsily, but with the intelligence we know them.

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