Jacob Elordi in "Oh, Canada." Source: Courtesy of Cannes

2024 Cannes Dispatch 3: Well-Received Indies and Films by Respected Auteurs Dominate the Day

Matthew Creith READ TIME: 6 MIN.

Most movies that screen at the Cannes Film Festival do so within the confines of what's referred to as The Palais. An all-encompassing and towering building filled with multiple theaters and press conference rooms, The Palais is the go-to spot for everything from gala red carpet events to press screenings of films that premiered earlier in the week. However, not all movies are shown within The Palais, which was my experience with the first film on the festival's fourth day.

I started my day by rushing across town to an IMAX theater called The Cineum, tucked away along the beaches in a state-of-the-art building...the first I encountered that actually served popcorn to Cannes moviegoers. I was there at 8:30 a.m. to watch "Bird," the latest independent film from British writer and director Andrea Arnold ("American Honey"). "Bird" had its world premiere in Berlin and its Cannes premiere the previous night, but I got the chance to see this heartwarming and touching movie on the biggest screen imaginable. Starring Barry Keoghan, Franz Rogowski, and Nykiya Adams, the film plays with magical realism while attempting to remain grounded in a dysfunctional family drama.

Adams stars as Bailey, a self-determined young girl looking for more out of life than caring for her younger siblings and striving to do what suits her family. The daughter of Keoghan's drug dealing Bug, who announces his engagement to a woman he's only known for three months, Bailey is often pulled apart by her father's ill-equipped parenting style and her single mother's terrible taste in men. The young Bailey looks up to her older half-brother and his desire to join a gang, which she desperately wants to be part of.

In between her father's schemes to raise a toad for its hallucinogenic purposes and going through typical coming-of-age scenarios like getting her period for the first time at the worst possible moment, Bailey needs a proper adult figure in her life. She meets Bird (Rogowski), an odd duck of a man on a mission to find his parents despite not knowing who he is or where he comes from. Bird spends his days stalking the people of the small British town by standing on the roof of his old childhood apartment building while Bailey looks on in fascination.

The man and preteen strike up a friendship, a situation that others in Bailey's life don't know about until she decides to help Bird find his long-lost parents. Bird represents the only stability in Bailey's life, though he isn't exactly the most stable human being. In sequences that recall the 2014 Oscar winner "Birdman," the character of Bird and his heroic actions in Bailey's life are viewed in magical senses, giving Bird feathers and the ability to fly.

"Bird" is an awkward family drama that takes shape under the charisma of Keoghan's trashy father character, Rigowski's utilization of bird movements to give his character depth, and Adams' vulnerability as a performer. The movie isn't a stellar exhibit for highlighting the pitfalls of a particular type of family dynamic. Still, it evolves into a meaningful display of reality for a young girl in Bailey's position. All three actors are great in a movie that feels a bit disjointed yet still grounded in the reality it's created for itself.

Next on my list for the day was the latest offering for director-of-the-moment Yorgos Lanthimos. "Kinds of Kindness" is a wild anthology film that costars many of Lanthimos' muses and frequent collaborators from recent films, including Emma Stone, Margaret Qualley, Joe Alwyn, and Willem Dafoe. Hot off of their Oscar-winning movie from last year, "Poor Things," Lanthimos and Stone reunite in typical offbeat fashion set to the tune of the Eurythmics classic, "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)."

by Matthew Creith

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