a golden lion in the form of sex education kills love

By Etienne Sorin

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Yorgos Lanthimos brandishes his Golden Lion. GUGLIELMO MANGIAPANE / REUTERS

The Greek director’s film, with Emma Stone as a submissive creature before emancipating herself, won the supreme award on the Lido. A fantastico-erotic tale flashy and simplistic. In theaters January 17, 2024.

The jury of the 80e Venice Film Festival, chaired by American director Damien Chazelle, did not thwart the predictions. “Poor creatures”by Yorgos Lanthimos, was favored by festival-goers and critics since its presentation at the start of the competition. He won the Golden Lion, consolidating the status of the Greek filmmaker, welcomed in triumph on the lagoon in 2018 with The Favorite (Grand Jury Prize), with Olivia Colman and already Emma Stone, one of the major absentees from this edition due to the strike in Hollywood.

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In a few films (Canine, The Lobster, Killing of the sacred deer), Lanthimos has earned a reputation as a misanthropeadept at discomfort and sarcasm. Poor creatures plays in the same court on the surface, but turns out to be much less subversive than it pretends to be. It is based on a novel by Scottish writer Alasdar Gray. It features Emma Stone (Bella Baxter) as a guinea pig prisoner of a deranged scientist – he has replaced the young woman’s brain with that of her unborn child. A stammering and capricious baby, Baxter is freed by a lustful lawyer who introduces her to the pleasures of the flesh. Between two somersaults, the beautiful ignorant reads books on the advice of Hannah Schygulla. His childish language becomes more and more sophisticated. But his emancipation is essentially through sex practiced in a brothel in Paris. Baxter is reminiscent of Barbie discovering the Real World, more trashy and nymphomaniac.

That the despisers of the male gauze are reured, nothing was done without the consent of Emma Stone. On the contrary, the American actress is the producer of the film and it is an understatement to say that she gives of herself. For a Hollywood star of her stature, she doesn’t shy away from nudity. In all positions and in hideous digital backdrops. Despite her debauchery of buttocks, feminism with small feet.

Political prices

The Grand Jury Prize goes to Evil does not exist, by Ryûsuke Hamaguchi. A sober film, without ostentatious effects, from a prolific Japanese filmmaker and now covered with awards. The author of the superb Drive my car (Screenplay Prize at Cannes and Oscar for best international film in 2021) changes gear by imagining a lumberjack father and his daughter in the countryside near Tokyo. The upcoming installation of glamping (glamorous glamping) is mobilizing the inhabitants of the village, worried about the arrival of city dwellers in search of nature. Long confusing (ecological drama, satire of sores?), the enigmatic, even abstruse end ends up leaving you perplexed.

More political, the prize for directing awarded to Matteo Garrone for Me, Captain and the Special Prize to Agnieszka Holland for Green border. Two feature films that portray the tragedy of migrants. The transalpine director follows the odyssey of two young Senegalese on their way to Italy. The Polish director follows the fate of a family of Syrian refugees, an Afghan English teacher and a young border guard between Poland and Belarus.

More insignificant, the American actor Peter Sarsgaard won the prize for best male performer at the for his role of a man suffering from dementia, opposite Jessica Chastain, in Memory Mexican Michel Franco. Cailee Spaeny is rewarded for her role as Elvis Presley’s wife In Priscilla by Sofia Coppola. If the chronicle of Mrs. Presley unhappy in her golden prison of Graceland is not overwhelming, the young American does not deserve it.

More scandalous, the Screenplay Prize given to El Conde, by the Chilean Pablo Larrain. A heavy and vain satire that imagines the dictator Augusto Pinochet as a vampire crossing the ages. The worst Netflix film in the competition, which had several (The Killer by David Fincher, Maestro by Bradley Cooper), not great but not as needy as this sad prank.

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