“Antifeminist”, “cliché”, “superkitsch”… “The Idol” with The Weeknd and Lily-Rose Depp ignites Cannes

Americans are very shocked. The French a little less… Presented out of competition to festival-goers (Monday evening) and to the press (Tuesday morning), the first two episodes of “The Idol” series were eagerly awaited after months of delay and controversy and before it was posted on Prime Video on June 5. A huge buzz due first to its main actors, Lily-Rose Depp and pop star, The Weeknd – who now wants to be called by his real name, Abel Tesfaye.

But also because of its subject: the daily life of a successful young singer who leads a sulphurous life between sex (sadomaso), (hard) and music (pop). But also following an article – from Rolling Stone magazine which announced rumors of a script rewriting by Sam Levinson (the creator of the hit series “Euphoria”) at the request of The Weeknd who would not have found the story “strong” enough in terms of sex, and who also reported suspicions of harment during filming. Elements denied since by the interested parties.

So, what are these first two episodes worth? They expose how Jocelyn, in her twenties, a singer known since her pre-teens, attempts a comeback after a year of absence following the death of her mother, which caused her to sink into a deep depression, not helped by the taking of various expedients.

The artist is therefore preparing her album in her luxurious villa on the heights of Los Angeles, and she is very surrounded: istant who is her best friend, manager, label boss, choreographer, dancers: all hold her close. And welcome with frightening cynicism the buzz of the day: a photo of Jocelyn, sticking out her tongue, her face covered in sperm, is circulating on social networks.

She does not panic, and between two rehearsal sessions for her clip, goes to party in a club. The boss of the place, Tedros, (The Weeknd) is going to flirt with her openly, and from their budding affair – and very very hot – is going to be born a musical project.

Because it turns out that said Tedros has his own label, and that he will “reveal Jocelyn’s true voice” during their first encounter where he suffocates her by barely letting her breathe. In love, the young singer, who begins to collapse because of the pressure and the infernal rhythm imposed by her producers, does not realize that her lover, a shady and indebted character, had anticipated everything and that he is undoubtedly trapping her…

A sexist and outrageous show

These two episodes left us with a mixed impression. On the side of the famous “hot” scenes, we witnessed a rather sexist spectacle, gratuitously outrageous, and which, on the form, flashy and very neat, recalls films like “Basic Instinct” – an extract of which can be seen in the series – in dirtier and more sordid.

But these sequences do not constitute the main part of the story, centered on the little secrets of the daily life of a famous singer. And as such, “The Idol” impresses: it’s a bit like going behind the scenes of the existence of a pop star between Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus and Lindsay Lohan. The way Levinson hugs the star and his entourage, with characters – manager, pundit of Live Nation (company that organizes tours and festivals), bosses of the music industry, press officers, star journalists, real- false friends… – all more cynical than each other, and who sugar on the star, turns out to be fascinating.

Since the end of the Cannes embargo, the reactions – rather ulcerated – rain. Americans are therefore extremely shocked by sex scenes that they consider “anti-feminist” – without explaining what a feminist sex scene would consist of. The specialized magazine Variety thus headlined Tuesday morning “The Idol scandalizes Cannes”. Scandalized, really? The article calls into question a scene of Lily-Rose Depp masturbating with an ice cube… forgetting to mention those where she asks her lover to strangle her! Worse, he contradicts himself by letting the actress speak, who denies the rumors of harment and defends her director.

On the side of young influencers, the reproaches are very different. “Too polished”, “superkitsch”, could be heard during their discussions after the screening. Fans of the “Euphoria” series, they hoped to find the same raw and stripped rawness there. Instead, they were treated to sequences of sex staged in a “9 1/2 weeks” way, and sardonic remarks around the star that they equate to “clichés”. They say they are very disappointed. Not us…

Editor’s note:

The Idol », American series by Sam Levinson, with Lily-Rose Depp, The Weeknd, Eli Roth… 6 episodes of 46 to 60 minutes. June 5 on Prime Video.

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