Pixar’s ‘Elemental’ Charms Cannes, Closes 2023 Festival With Five-Minute Standing Ovation

There were more than a few misty eyes in the audience at the premiere of Pixar’s animated adventure “Elemental,” which closed out this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

The sweet, opposites-attract love story proved charming to attendees, closing out the festival with a five-minute standing ovation. At least one grown man in the orchestra was wiping away his cascading tears as the credits began to roll. And it’s safe to assume he wasn’t alone in his emotional response to the film, which doubles as a not-so-subtle metaphor about inclusion and people’s differences making them stronger.

“My heart is about to explode,” said “Elemental” director Peter Sohn as the ovation began to die down. “This film has been about the richness of diversity. Our lives are better when there are different points of view.”

Prior to the screening, Jane Fonda, Quentin Tarantino, John C. Riley, “Game of Thrones” star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Orlando Bloom, as well as jury president Ruben Östlund and jury members Brie Larson, Paul Dano and Julia Ducournau walked the famed red carpet one last time this festival.

The closing night film was preceded by an hour-long awards ceremony, in which the Palme D’Or was awarded to Justine Triet‘s “Anatomy of a Fall” and the Grand Prix was given to Jonathan Glazer’s “The Zone of Silence.”

It was a long night for those at the Palais, who arrived at the call time of 7:30 p.m and left after the credits rolled just before midnight. But as they walked out, they were greeted with a spectacular, nearly-heart stopping display of fireworks over the Croisette. What’s that saying? Good things come to those who wait.

But before all the pyrotechnics brought the 2023 festival to a close, there was plenty of sitting around in the theater. During the 20 minutes in between the ceremony and the screening of “Elemental,” which began closer to 10 p.m., most of the room managed to stretch their legs as they dutifully filed out for a smoke break. Several audience members left the premises after the closing ceremony, so after the movie ended, those who were still in their seats were quick to run to the center aisles to get a better view of the voice cast and filmmaker.

“It’s an honor to bring this film to Cannes. Thierry, it’s an honor,” Sohn said as the festival chief Thierry Fremaux embraced him with a hug.

“Elemental” is set in a world inhabited by anthropomorphic elements of nature — some of which blend well together and some who don’t. The story revolves around the friendship between fire element Ember, a fearless and quick-witted young woman with a strong personality, and water element Wade, a sentimental, fun-loving, go-with-the-flow boy. Though their varying characteristics mean they cannot touch each other, they discover how much they actually have in common.

Sohn says “Elemental” draws inspiration from romantic films like “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” “Moonstruck” and “Amélie.” It’s the fourth Pixar movie to screen at Cannes, following 2009’s “Up,” 2015’s “Inside Out” and 2020’s “Soul.” It’s scheduled to debut theatrically on June 16.

The voice cast, most of whom walked the carpet for Saturday’s premiere, includes Leah Lewis, Mamoudou Athie, Ronnie del Carmen, Shila Ommi, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Catherine O’Hara.

Several high-profile Hollywood movies premiered at this year’s Cannes, including Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” and James Mangold’s “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.” The 76th edition kicked off with Maiwenn’s “Jeanne du Barry,” starring Johnny Depp, on May 16.

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