Preview of Cannes 2021

Paul Verhoeven with Isabelle Huppert at Cannes in 2016 all courtesy WikiCommons

David Prendeville

All going well, July should see the return of the Cannes Film Festival. The most prestigious film festival in the world was, eventually, cancelled in 2020, after many delays. Its return this year will certainly be symbolic of a return to some kind of cinematic normality.
While the line-up is not yet known, there are expected to be many hold-overs of hotly anticipated titles that were set to play at the 2020 festival, such as Paul Verhoeven’s Benedetta and Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch.
Verhoeven, director of subversive cult Hollywood films such as Robocop and Showgirls, last had success on the Croisette in 2016 with the provocative Elle. His latest sounds equally at home to provocation and subversion, following as it does: “A 17th-century nun in Italy suffers from disturbing religious and erotic visions.”
Anderson’s latest sees him team up once more with a who’s who of international stars. Fresh from her recent Oscar win, Frances McDormand stars alongside Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Timthee Chalamet, Saoirse Ronan, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton, Lea Seydoux alongside many, many more. The film is said to be a love letter to journalists set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional twentieth century French city that brings to life a collection of stories published in “The French Dispatch Magazine.”
Other titles that could crop up include Andrew Dominik’s Marilyn Monroe biopic Blonde, starring Ana De Armas. Dominik hasn’t made a feature film since Killing Them Softly, which debuted at Cannes in 2012, while De Armas is currently one of the hottest stars in Hollywood, following her leading turn in the smash hit mystery Knives Out. Another contender is the new drama from the great Claire Denis, Fire, starring Juliette Binoche. Said to be a decidedly more low-key affair than Denis’ 2018 space film High Life, should it make it into the Official Selection, it would, incredulously, be the first time a Denis film was up for the Palme D’or since her debut Chocolat in 1988. 
Another greatly anticipated film to watch out for is the serial-killer film Titane, Julia Ducournau’s follow-up to her terrific 2016 body horror Raw. It would also be great to see Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir Part 2 turn up at the festival. The 2018 predecessor is one of the best films of recent years. The sequel is produced by Dublin 4 based Element Pictures, which would add a small element of Irish interest to proceedings, should it be in competition. 
A long shot that this writer, and I’m sure Theirry Fremaux and his cohorts at Cannes, would love to see, would be for Paul Thomas Anderson to premiere his first film at the festival since Punch-Drunk Love in 2002. His latest film, which has a working title of Soggy Bottom, stars Cooper Hoffman (son of the great, PTA-regular Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and Bradley Cooper in a tale of high-school and Hollywood set in the 1970s. It is more likely that the film will follow the lead of Anderson’s last number of films and make it’s bow in one of the Autumn festivals. 
One we know for certain will play is Leos Carax’s Annette. Carax hasn’t made a film since the terrific Holy Motors, which wowed Cannes in 2012. His latest stars Marion Cotillard and Adam Driver and is said to be a musical about a glamorous couple coping with the birth of their child. That film is scheduled to open the festival on Tuesday July 6th.