Top 150 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2019: Ahmed – Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne.
The Dardenne Bros. turn their socially minded lens to religious extremism with their eleventh narrative feature, Ahmed. As usual, the Dardennes are collaborating with production company Les Films du Fleuve, returning to a template which saw them find early success by using a cast of unknowns. Having twice won the Palme d’Or (Rosetta, 1999; L’enfant, 2005), the duo are the most celebrated directors to have come from Belgium, making any of their projects of instant note. Besides their Palme wins, their offerings almost always leave Cannes with a major prize, including the Ecumenical Jury Prize for 2002’s Le fils, Best Screenplay for Lorna’s Silence in 2008, the Grand Jury Prize for 2011’s The Kid with a Bike, and again the Ecumenical Jury Prize for 2014’s Two Days, One Night (which also resulted in an Oscar nod for Marion Cotillard). Their 2016 feature The Unknown Girl (read review) was their only effort to leave the festival unrewarded.
The Dardennes turn to another topical issue with Ahmed, religious fundamentalism. While details are scarce, the plot concerns a young man who plots to kill his teacher following his extremist interpretation of the Quran. Early details are reminiscent of similar territory explored by Rachid Bouchareb in his 2016 Belgian set The Road to Istanbul, which explores a mother’s journey to search for her radicalized teenager.
These reunions with the happy band of “Little handkerchiefs”, we waited with some impatience. While fearing that the charm operates less nine years later. And that’s what happens. Blame it on a lazy scenario.
Max (François Cluzet) is spinning bad cotton. Depressed, ruined, he is preparing to sell his holiday home quietly, without talking to his ex (Valerie Bonneton). But for the discretion, it’s missed: it’s right the moment that the band of friends lost sight of for years has chosen to come and celebrate his birthday and seal the reunion. Discomfort.
They are all there, a little older, a little thick for some … Vincent (Benoît Magimel), Marie (Marion Cotillard), Eric (Gilles Lellouche), Antoine (Laurent Lafitte), Isabelle (Pascale Arbillot) … Only Ludo, gone in the first part, misses the call. But Jean Dujardin will still give us a little wink at the end of the film.
Paolo Moretti, the successor to Edward Waintrop, head of the parallel section of the Cannes Film Festival, unveiled his first selection. This 51st edition, from May 15 to 25, is characterized by increasing titles and a strong delegation of French films that, for many, flirt with the fantastic or a singular universe.
Twenty-six feature films For his first selection at the Directors’ Fortnight, Paolo Moretti, defector of the La Roche-sur-Yon International Film Festival, who also worked for the Venice Film Festival, did not skimp on quantity. This number is well above the average of previous editions. At the press conference held again this Tuesday, April 23 at the Forum des Images, the new delegate general said that of all the feature films selected, sixteen will see their authors land for the first time on the Croisette. “The Directors’ Fortnight also has the role of bringing in new directors,” said Moretti.
Seven French films are part of this selection, opened Wednesday, May 15 by Quentin Dupieux’s Le Suede with Jean Dujardin and Adele Haenel and closed by Yves de Benoît Forgeard ( Gaz de France ) whose dare we hardly dare to pitch. Because Yves is none other than a smart refrigerator supposed to simplify the life to the hero Jerem (William Lebghil). In this comedy about rap and star-up, we also find Philippe Katerine and Doria Tillier.