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The 10 Films That Might Surprise or Shock Us at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival

The 10 Films That Might Surprise or Shock Us at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival

The 2014 Cannes Film Festival launches on Wednesday, and with it comes a slew of films sure to shock, surprise and provoke, just as last year’s Palme d’Or winner “Blue is the Warmest Color” did when it world premiered at the event. Here are 10 films that could potentially follow suit.

“The Captive,” dir. Atom Egoyan

Canadian filmmaker
Atom Egoyan has been a fixture on La Croisette since his 1994 breakout
feature “Exotica,” which took the FIPRESCI prize. “The Sweet Hereafter”
won that same award in addition to the Grand Prix honor in 1997. The
filmmaker’s career has by no means taken a nosedive since, but to many,
he hasn’t lived up to the promise set by his earlier efforts (save for
“Felicia’s Journey,” which featured a great performance by the late Bob
Hoskins). “Where the Truth Lies,” “Adoration” and “Chloe” were all met
with mixed reviews, while his latest, the West Memphis Three drama
“Devil’s Knot,” was his worst reviewed effort to date. His last two
films (“Chloe” and “Devil’s Knot”) weren’t given a Cannes berth, so early signs point to “The Captive” being a surprise comeback
for Egoyan (the film’s trailer is very promising). And it could also mark a comeback for star Ryan Reynolds.
After misfiring in blockbuster territory with “The Green Lantern” and
“R.I.P.D.,” Reynolds has retreated to indie fare, surprising in the Sundance
oddity “The Voices,” and hopefully, in this too as a family man whose
young daughter goes missing. [Nigel M. Smith]

“Catch Me Daddy,” dir. Daniel Wolfe

Daniel Wolfe’s feature-length debut “Catch Me Daddy” premieres at Directors’ Fortnight with the expectations of something frantic and moody: the U.K. production is described by the British Film
Council as the story of a teenager who skips town with her boyfriend
after he abandons the army; with a pair of bounty hunters on their tail,
the young woman continually faces the advances of her menacing father
until she finally manages to confront him. Setting aside the enticing
description, Wolfe has a track record that automatically makes his
feature-length debut worth checking out: He directed the extended 2012
music video for “Time to Dance,” by French rock band The Shoes, which
stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a ruthless killer. Aside from ranking among the
actor’s fiercest roles without asking him to utter a word, “Time to
Dance” exhibits a kind of frantic energy that suggests early Danny
Boyle, even as it evokes similarly unnerving portraits ranging from
Brian De Palma’s “Scarface” to Gaspar Noe’s “Enter the Void.Using that stylistic showcase as a barometer for Wolfe’s skill, there’s no doubting his ability to inject the relatively straightforward plot of “Catch Me Daddy” with a sense of unsettling possibilities. Whether or not that’s enough to carry the entire movie is unclear — but the bizarre nature of its plot — protective family measures with a deadly twist — and the supposed momentum it develops as it barrels ahead is sure to provide some added excitement to the Croisette. [Eric Kohn]

“Clouds of Sils Maria,” dir. Olivier Assayas

Assayas isn’t adverse to star casting, having worked with Juliette
Binoche, Chloe Sevigny and Gina Gershon, but his latest, “Clouds of Sils
Maria,” is his first to flirt with the young Hollywood A-list. Binoche,
in her second film with Assayas following the 2008 family drama “Summer
Hours,” headlines the film as Maria Enders, an actress who’s forced to
look deep within when a younger actress (Chloë Grace Moretz) steps into
the role that made her famous 20 years ago. Kristen Stewart, returning
to Cannes after turning heads in “On the Road,” co-stars as Maria’s
loyal assistant. Binoche, who won Best Actress at Cannes for “Certified
Copy,” has nothing to prove. Both Stewart and Moretz have indie
credentials, but with “Clouds of Sils Maria,” they’re both making their
first foray into European arthouse fare, and therefore, have the
potential to surprise. [Nigel M. Smith]

Foxcatcher,” dir. Bennett Miller

Bennett Miller
(“Capote,” “Moneyball”) has yet to make a bad film, and all signs point
to his third effort, “Foxcatcher” being a success. For starters: producer Megan
Ellison (whose got a great track record herself with “Her” and “American Hustle”) backed the film. And Miller is once again working off a
screenplay by Dan Futterman (“Capote”). So what could surprise about the
project? The performances. Back when the film was initially scheduled
to open last Christmas (Sony Pictures Classics has since moved it to Fall), a trailer debuted online showing first glimpses at
Steve Carell’s transformative turn as real-life multimillionaire John du
Pont, who murdered an Olympic champion. Boasting a prosthetic nose,
Carell doesn’t look like himself in the part, nor does he sound it with
an eery drawl sure to give you the creeps. His co-star Channing Tatum
seems to have matched him in the transformation department playing a wrestling champ du Pont takes a
serious liking to. Tatum’s said
the role was his “hardest acting challenge to date.” Look for
“Foxcatcher” to make audiences and critics see the two actors in a whole
new light. [Nigel M. Smith]

“Goodbye to Language,” dir. Jean Luc-Godard

One of the most important filmmakers of all time, Godard’s work is never ready-made for commercial expectations, even as he began his career by
riffing on Hollywood. But that’s exactly what makes each new Godard
movie such a fascinating challenge: Growing ever more experimental in
the later stages of his career, his recent movies — perhaps most notably
with 2010’s “Film Socialism” — are consumed by a commitment to
confounding expectations and pushing the boundaries of the medium’s
communicative possibilities. Nearly 55 years after “Breathless,” we’re
finally getting a 3-D Godard feature, a freewheeling portrait of marital
infidelity that continually transforms into something else (but no
matter how strange its narrative, at 70 minutes, it’s one of the
shortest entries in competition). “Goodbye to the Language” will be
weird (word on the street is that it includes a talking dog), possibly
impenetrable and guaranteed to be divisive — which is exactly what makes
a great movie at Cannes. [Eric Kohn]

“It Follows,” dir. David Robert Mitchell

Mitchell’s first feature “The Myth of the American Sleepover” was the rare U.S. teen drama to take that giddy stage of maturation seriously — and it played to great acclaim at Cannes as a result. His followup returns to that same period under the guise of a genre film, focusing on the eerie experiences of a young woman haunted by supernatural forces after a sexual encounter. So far, early buzz suggests a genuinely gripping achievement from the promising young director, who has been working overtime to finish the movie in time for its premiere at Cannes’ Critics Week section. But even as “It Follows” may draw in some viewers with the ingredients of a horror story, those who have managed an early look suggest that the familiar ingredients are merely the starting point for a much deeper allegorical experience that defies easy categorization. [Eric Kohn]

“Jauja,” dir. Lisandro Alonso

Argentinean director Alonso’s “Jauja” stars Viggo
Mortensen and focuses on a Danish father-daughter pair who moves to a desolate region of South America . Alonso’s slow-burn work typically borders on the avant garde as it
explores alienation through a steady accumulation of images and poetic
encounters, but the bigger production may allow broader audiences to notice his
alluring approach — even if it doesn’t whip buyers into a frenzy. Alonso’s “Liverpool,” a nearly wordless account of a man journeying to see his mother, mainly received acclaim on the festival circuit among audiences hip to its slow, patient style. But “Jauja” suggests a more dynamic experience involving the mysterious nature of the universe, with secrets buried in its plot that defy any basic description and images that may truly defy words. [Eric Kohn]

“Leviathan,” dir. Andrey Zvyagintstev

A decade ago, Zvyagintstev won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film
Festival for his acclaimed debut “The Return,” the tense drama of two
boys coping with their father’s sudden reappearance after an extended
absence. With his followups “Banishment” and “Elena” — both of which
premiered at Cannes — Zvyagintstev deepened his penchant for bleak,
patiently developed stories about the outliers of contemporary Russian
society, melding a cerebral approach with nerve-wracking genre
ingredients. Zvyagintstev’s latest feature is supposedly inspired by the Book of Job,
which means more downbeat occurrences with profound undertones, and its
large ensemble cast suggest it contains the greatest scope of his
filmography to date. The director’s movies tend to creep up on you — in “Elena,” for instance, the cold drama of an older woman caring for her ailing husband takes a sudden, bleak twist into thriller territory during its closing minutes. It’s hard to say if “Leviathan” can compete with that — but Zvyagintstev is exactly the director to keep the surprises coming. Anyone intrigued by sophisticated narrative
filmmaking should eagerly anticipate this sure-to-be-challenging selection. [Eric Kohn]

“Lost River,” dir. Ryan Gosling

If there’s one big question mark at this festival, it’s Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut “Lost River,” screening in the Un Certain Regard section. Shrouded in mystery until last week when Gosling released an intriguing director’s statement and batch of trippy stills, the film has the makings of something truly bizarre (it centers on the discovery of an underwater town…). Though how bonkers can it really be given that Warner Bros. is distributing it to the masses Stateside? In his statement, Gosling likens his directing style to “somewhere in-between” the sensibilities of Derek Cianfrance and Nicolas Winding Refn. The filmmakers work in such different extremes that a unity of the two is an enticing and ballsy prospect. [Nigel M. Smith]

Maps to the Stars,” dir. David Cronenberg

David Cronenberg returns to Cannes with “Maps to the Stars,” his fifth film to premiere in competition, and, surprisingly, his first set in Hollywood. Despite the new setting, the film’s trailers hint at a return to the shocking provocations of his 1996 art-house smash “Crash” (his only film to ever win at Cannes), with Julianne Moore stealing the show as a manic actress who engages in backseat sex with a limo driver (Robert Pattinson). In fact Moore is so alluring in the promo, the rest of the cast (which includes John Cusack, Mia Wasikowska, and Olivia Williams) barely register. Sporting blonde hair, plumped up lips, and a frenzied disposition, Moore’s work here seems unlike anything the actress has attempted before, recalling Nicole Kidman’s similarly go-for-broke turn in Lee Daniel’s “The Paperboy,” which also screened at Cannes and shocked critics. It looks like Moore’s set to have the same effect. [Nigel M. Smith]

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