Cannes 2023 kicks off with Johnny Depp’s royal comeback

The 76th Cannes Film Festival kicked off on Tuesday with the red carpet premiere of French director Maiwen’s historical drama “Jeanne Dubarry,” about the scandal between French King Louis XV and a lowly prostitute, starring Johnny Depp The monarch made a high-profile appearance. The comeback has caused a lot of controversy.

Scandal is a cliché at Cannes, usually applied to just about anything that causes a stir on and off screen.

Of course, there have been many sexist scandals, such as the “heelgate” controversy in 2016, in which women who wore flat shoes were banned from the red carpet. A year later, Claudia Cardinale was controversially airbrushed on the official poster for the 70th edition of the festival.

Naturally, these films caused quite a stir. Four years ago, Abdellatif Kechiche’s sexually explicit, three-hour nightclub extravaganza “Mektoub My Love: Intermezzo” sparked a diva strike at the premiere. The movie has since fallen off the radar and still hasn’t hit theaters.

Other earlier quarrels are now part of Cannes folklore. These include the unimitated post-oral uproar in Vincent Gallo’s “Brown Rabbit” (2003) or the din in Marco Ferreri’s “Big Cow” (1973) In Gulp to Death, the director was seen spitting at him as he left, and Ingrid Bergman, chairman of the screenings and jury, reportedly spat.

Fifty years on, another Swede – two-time Palme d’Or winner Ruben Österlund – is president of the jury at the 76th edition of the film festival, which opened on Tuesday with a screening of Maïwenn “Jeanne du Barry,” the film about an explosive courtroom scandal in 18th-century Versailles.

Johnny Depp plays King Louis XV of France, his first role after his short-lived marriage to actress Amber Heard, a smear in the US The trial was debunked in lurid details.

Depp, 59, was greeted by fans as he arrived at the Palais with a ponytail and sunglasses.He spent a few minutes schmoozing the crowd, posing for selfies and signing autographs before heading into the filmof The most famous red carpets of Maïwenn premieresIt’s a prologue.


The film revolves around the king’s tumultuous relationship with his last mistress, Jeanne du Barry, played by Maïwenn, a commoner and prostitute whose entry into the gilded palace of Versailles would naturally cause a colossal scandal.

Depp signed up for the role of Louis XV ahead of a legal battle with his ex-wife involving scathing allegations of domestic violence that threatened to derail his career. Heard was fired from the Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them following allegations of abuse, though he was a long way from being “canceled.”

Variety reported last week that the long-time French favourite, the American star, had landed a record-setting $20 million deal to remain the face of Dior fragrances. Later this year, he will also direct Al Pacino’s biopic of artist Amedeo Modigliani. Still, the decision to hand over the pride of his comeback film to the Cannes Film Festival inevitably raised eyebrows.

Speaking to the press on Monday, Cannes director Thierry Frémaux defended the choice, praising Depp for his role in the film and saying he was not following the trial. “To be honest, in my life I have only one rule, and that is freedom of thought, freedom of speech and freedom to act within the legal framework,” Frémaux said. “If Johnny Depp was banned from a movie, or the movie was banned, we wouldn’t be talking about it here.”

Johnny Depp poses on the red carpet for the Cannes premiere of Maïwenn’s “Jeanne du Barry”. © Joel C Ryan, Associated Press

Even though the film was out of competition, members of the Palme d’Or jury were also asked about Depp’s presence during the traditional opening press conference. Outspoken #MeToo supporter and “Captain Marvel” star Brie Larson looked flustered when she responded to a question on the subject, curtly saying: “I don’t know how I feel about it “.

Depp’s fall from grace isn’t the only controversy surrounding “Jeanne Dubarry,” whose director has been a critic of the #MeToo movement, saying: “I want the rest of my life to be booed in the streets.”

In March, Edwy Plenel, a prominent French journalist for the investigative news site Mediapart, filed a criminal complaint against Maïwenn over the assault, accusing her of approaching him at a restaurant, grabbing his hair and spitting in his face water.

Maïwenn acknowledged the attack in an interview with French television, but did not elaborate. Plenel said that may be because of articles about rape allegations by Maïwenn’s ex-husband and the father of one of her children, director Luc Besson (“The Fifth Element”), whom she married when she was 16.

Her Cannes unveiling came just days after famed actress Adele Heinel (Portrait of a Woman on Fire), a French icon of #MeToo, announced she was quitting film acting to “denounce the prevalence of sexual abusers in our industry.” Complacency” prompted 123 French film industry workers to denounce the festival in an open letter published by Libération newspaper on Monday.

“By rolling out the red carpet to men and women who commit attacks, the festival shows that violence in creative circles can go completely unpunished,” read the piece, which includes signatures from Julie Gayet and Laure Calamy, among other prominent actors.

Back to Versailles

At just 47 years old, Maïwenn has already made a name for herself at the world’s premier film event, winning the 2011 Jury Prize for her breakthrough film Polisse. Four years later, her sequel, My King, won Emmanuel Belcourt the Best Actress Award.

Encore! © France 24

A grand costume affair shot on 35mm film at the Palace of Versailles, “Jeanne du Barry” marked a radical change in scale and style for the French filmmaker whose $20 million film was produced by Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Films. Funding is provided in part by the Foundation. Its classicism was as strict as the courtly etiquette of Versailles, eschewing the naturalism and improvisation of her past work.

The movie is also surprisingly pure, limiting the notoriously bohemian king’s last passionate love affair to impish giggles, adoring glances and kinky kisses.

In a world where it is almost impossible to distinguish between “flirting” and rape, choosing to be a libertine “is a way of being a woman and a way of being free,” says the narrator at the beginning of the film, describing Jeanne Dubarry as a “The Daughter of Nothing”.

Depp, who was previously married to French star Vanessa Paradis, did a great job physically, though he kept his dialogue brief, helping to disguise his American accent. Benjamin Lavernhe plays his stoic valet, La Borde, while India Hair plays the king’s daughter, Adélaïde, bent on banishing the “scandal” that her father allowed into the palace.

There’s also Melvil Poupaud as Jeanne’s early lover and pimp, the charming and ruthlessly selfish Count du Barry, though he and the rest of the characters remain underdeveloped in a film completely absorbed by its titular character.

Maïwenn described the film as the fulfillment of a 17-year dream. She said her interest in Jeanne du Barry came from watching Sofia Coppola’s Versailles scene “Marie Antoinette” (2006), in which Asia Argento played Louis XV’s mistress.

Like Coppola’s opulent art albums, “Jeanne Dubari” is set in a cocoon, a self-contained world of indulgence, lavish attire and architectural wonders that shut out the outside world. But it lacks the boldness and inventiveness that powered “Marie Antoinette.”

It also lacks the poignant intimacy of Albert Serra’s haunting “Death of Louis XIV” (2016), starring New Wave icon Jean-Pierre Leau, by candlelight Fascinating account of the Sun King’s final days in the palace he built.

Jeanne du Barry, a quick-witted working-class woman hungry for culture and fun, is certainly a more interesting character than poor rich girl Marie Antoinette. But while Maven’s own infatuation with Louis XV’s favorite mistress is all too obvious onscreen, the movie doesn’t make it infectious.

cannes film festival
cannes film festival © Studio graphique France Médias Monde

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