Cannes Film Festival Reviews 2023: ‘Flower Moon,’ ‘Asteroid City,’ ‘May December,’ ‘Indiana Jones 5’ and More

The 2023 Cannes Film Festival is jam-packed with buzzy world premieres, from Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” to Wes Anderson’s “Asteroid City.” Todd Haynes is also back to unveil “May December,” featuring the A-list pairing of Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore, while Disney is bringing Harrison Ford to the Croisette for “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.” New films from Pedro Almodovar, Jessica Hautner, Jonathan Glazer, Catherine Corsini, Hirokazu Kore-eda and more are also set to make their debuts at Cannes this year.

Cannes is often seen as a launching pad for Oscar season. Warner Bros. in 2022 kicked off its lengthy awards run for Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” on the French Riviera, with the film going on to land eight Academy Award nominations, including best picture. Palme d’Or winner “Triangle of Sadness” also picked up Oscar nods for best picture, director and original screenplay. Two international film nominees, “Close” and “EO,” launched at last year’s festival, while “Aftersun” best actor nominee Paul Mescal got his awards start in the Directors Fortnight sidebar. All of this is to say the industry will be closely watching the buzz on all of this year’s world premieres.

See all of Variety’s review from the 2023 Cannes Film Festival below. The roundup will be updated daily to include the most recent batch of reviews. Reviews presented in alphabetical order following the opening night selection.

Jeanne du Barry

Section: Opening Night Film/Out of Competition

Director: Maïwenn

Cast: Maïwenn, Johnny Depp, Benjamin Lavernhe, Pierre Richard, Melvil Poupaud, Pascal Greggory,

Variety’: French actor-director Maïwenn can relate, casting herself as the courtesan-turned-comtesse in “Jeanne du Barry,” a sensitive and surprisingly low-key portrait of the French monarch’s last mistress. That Maïwenn saw fit to engage tabloid-embattled Johnny Depp as ‘her king’ is just one of the many hurdles she set for herself — but then, no one embarks on such a project with the intention of pleasing her critics. – Peter Debruge

About Dry Glasses

Section: Competition

Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan. 

Cast: Deni̇z Celi̇loğlu, Merve Di̇zdar, Musab Eki̇ci̇, Ece Bağci

Variety’s “About Dry Grasses,” his long, languid but slowly captivating ninth feature, is merely his latest work to examine man’s right, for better or worse, to be selfish, to be an anti-hero, to crave attention and isolation all at once, and to talk about it all night long. – Guy Lodge

Anatomy of a Fall

Section: Competition

Director: Justine Triet.

Cast: Sandra Hüller, Swann Arlaud, Milo Machado Graner, Antoine Reinartz

Variety’sDepending on where you come down on the question of its main character’s guilt or innocence, Justine Triet’s “Anatomy of a Fall” could be seen as a kind of “Gone Girl” in reverse: A frustrated writer dies of suspicious causes, leaving behind clues that implicate his wife (Sandra Hüller). – Peter Debruge

Anselm

Section: Special Screenings

Director: Wim Wenders

Variety’s Not enough directors have capitalized on the ability of 3D to convey a sense of physical depth; fewer still have seized on the possibility of adding philosophical depth. Thank goodness, then, for Wim Wenders. The first of two new films by the German veteran in this year’s Cannes official selection, “Anselm” is a tour de force 3D 6K portrait of the artist Anselm Kiefer, both rich in ideas and breathtaking in technical execution. – Catherine Bray

Asteroid City

Section: Competition

Director: Wes Anderson

Cast: Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Jake Ryan, Jeffrey Wright, Tilda Swinton, Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Hong Chau, Liev Schreiber, Hope Davis, Grace Edwards, Aristou Meehan, Sophia Lillis, Jeff Goldblum.

Variety’sThe director’s creation of a tiny desert town is an ingenious act of world-building, but what happens there has the turgid ironic whimsy of Anderson’s “The Darjeeling Limited” and “The Life Aquatic.” – Owen Gleiberman

Black Flies

Section: Competition

Director: Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire.

Cast: Sean Penn, Tye Sheridan, Gbenga Akkinagbe, Raquel Nave

Variety’s In “Black Flies,” a movie that keeps working to get high on its own intensity, Sean Penn and Tye Sheridan play paramedics who spend their nights driving through hell (I mean, Brooklyn). There are countless shots of the two in their EMS van, riding along under the tracks of an overhead subway train — the exact kind of grungy Brooklyn boulevard that Popeye Doyle went smashing through in the famous “French Connection” car/subway chase. – Owen Gleiberman

Bread and Roses

Section: Special Screenings

Director: Sahra Mani

Cast: Zahra Mohammadi, Taranom Seyedi, Sharifa Movahidzadeh

Variety’s: Produced by Jennifer Lawrence, this film tackles an urgent and timely topic through a committed on-the-ground perspective, capturing the experience of three people, Zahra, Taranom and Sharifa, whose lives as they knew them were effectively ended when the Taliban seized control of Kabul in 2021. – Catherine Bray

Club Zero

Section: Competition

Director: Jessica Hautner

Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Amir El-Masry

Variety’s“Club Zero” won’t be for everyone, but Hausner, channeling some combination of Hitchcock and Cronenberg and “Village of the Damned” and the Todd Haynes of “Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story,” has now made an even more gripping and provocative mind-fuck. – Owen Gleiberman

The Delinquents

Section: Un Certain Regard

Director: Rodrigo Moreno

Cast: Daniel Elias, Esteban Bigliardi, Margarita Molfino, German De Silva

Variety’sArgentinian writer-director Rodrigo Moreno’s delightful “The Delinquents” knows the feeling too. Over the course of its droll, meandering, indefinably strange three hours, it may well persuade you that the crazy thing is not to break from your normal routine. The crazy thing is to ever go back. – Jessica Kiang

Fallen Leaves

Section: Competition

Director: Aki Kaurismäki

Cast: Alma Pöysti, Jussi Vatanen.

Variety’s A monosyllabic minimalist love story has the charm of all Kaurismäki films, but it’s a minor bauble – Owen Gleiberman

Firebrand

Section: Competition

Director: Karim Aïnouz

Cast: Alicia Vikander, Jude Law, Simon Russell Beale, Eddie Marsan

Variety’s : Art-house darling Karim Aïnouz’s English-language debut seems disconnected from his previous work (‘Invisible Life,’ ‘Futuro Beach’), bringing a contemporary agenda to its depiction of Katherine Parr. – Peter Debruge

The (Ex)perience of Love

Section: Critics’ Week

Director: Ann Sirot

Cast: Lucie Debay, Lazare Gousseau, Florence Loiret Caille

Variety’sIt’s perhaps not a film that would sustain a vastly longer running time, but at just 89 minutes, this is a sweet and whimsical comedy that knows how not to out-stay its welcome. It’s easy to imagine a bigger-budget American remake hitting Sundance in a couple of years. – Catherine Bray

Four Daughters

Section: Competition

Director: Kaouther Ben Hania

Cast: Hend Sabri, Olfa Hamrouni, Eya Chikhaoui, Tayssir Chikhaoui

Variety’s: “Four Daughters” may operate better on a scene-to-scene basis than as a holistic narrative, but within those individual scenes there are plosive little puffs of insight that are sometimes provocative, sometimes moving, and sometimes, unexpectedly, very funny. – Jessica Kiang

Godard par Godard

Section: Cannes Classics

Direction: Florence Platarets

Variety’s: All of which sounds like one of those Cannes–only special events, but au contraire: This is a program that was meant to be seen by the world at large, and with any luck it will be distributed that way. It’s an homage that invites us to look back, with fond fascination, on all the cinema Godard gave us, and on who he really was. – Owen Gleiberman

The Goldman Case

Section: Director’s Fortnight

Director: Cédric Kahn

Cast: Arieh Worthalter, Arthur Harari, Stéphan Guérin-Tillié, Nicolas Briançon, Aurélien Chaussade

V: In “The Goldman Case,” Cédric Kahn’s formally restrained but ultimately electrifying dramatization of a trial that gripped and divided France in 1976, that canny inconsistency is but one unexpected fold in a courtroom drama that finds equal intrigue in legal order and human chaos. – Guy Lodge

Homecoming

Section: Competition

Director: Catherine Corsini

Cast: Suzy Bemba, Esther Gohourou, Aïssatou Diallo Sagna, Lomane de Dietrich

Variety’s: For all the secrets and lies that shape the narrative of Catherine Corsini’s straightforwardly told but consistently intriguing new film, its most interesting tensions often emerge from things its characters already know, even if they haven’t acknowledged them out loud. – Guy Lodge

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Section: Out of Competition

Director: James Mangold

Cast: Harrison Ford, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Antonio Banderas, John Rhys-Davies, Toby Jones, Boyd Holbrook, Mads Mikkelsen

Variety’s “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” is a dutifully eager but ultimately rather joyless piece of nostalgic hokum. It’s the fifth installment of the “Indiana Jones” franchise, and though it has its quota of “relentless” action, it rarely tries to match (let alone top) the ingeniously staged kinetic bravura of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” – Owen Gleiberman

Killers of the Flower Moon

Section: Competition

Director: Martin Scorsese

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone

Variety’s Review: “Killers of the Flower Moon” isn’t an epic motion picture so much as a miniseries. Nothing wrong with that, except it’s intended for the big screen — where Apple has committed to release it this fall. Closer to two hours, “Killers” would make a killing, whereas longer than “The Longest Day,” most folks will wait to watch at home. – Peter Debruge

May December

Section: Competition

Director: Todd Haynes

Cast: Julianne Moore, Natalie Portman, Charles Melton

Variety’s: From the rich Douglas Sirkian pastiche of “Far From Heaven” to the queer twist on classical “woman’s pictures” provided by “Carol,” his style can be chilly and distancing. Not so “May December.” As layered and infinitely open-to-interpretation as any of his films, it’s also the most generous and direct. – Peter Debruge

Monster

Section: Competition

Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda

Cast: Mugino Saori, Hori Michitoshi, Mugino Minato, Hoshikawa Yori, Fushimi Makiko.

Variety’s A tricksy timeline and the selective unveiling of crucial information keeps audiences from guessing where this convoluted portrait of a pre-teen in turmoil might be headed. – Peter Debruge

The Nature of Love

Section: Un Certain Regard

Director: Monia Chokri

Cast: Magalie Lépine-Blondeau, Pierre-Yves Cardinal, Francis-William Rhéaume

Variety’s A sexy, funny treat, Chokri’s third feature communicates some home truths about desire and familiarity, but not at the expense of comedy…The film is impeccably cast. As Sophia, Magalie Lépine Blondeau is wonderful, gifted with great comic timing and a particular knack for telegraphing that sense of someone who knows they’re making a huge mistake, but are compelled to go ahead and make it anyway. – Catherine Bray

The New Boy

Section: Un Certain Regard

Director: Warwick Thornton

Cast: Aswan Reid, Cate Blanchett, Deborah Mailman, Wayne Blair,

Variety’s Inspired by Thornton’s own experience of growing up as an Aboriginal boy in a Christian boarding school, this is ambitious, tonally tricky filmmaking, bringing an unexpected dose of whimsy to social interests more austerely explored in Thornton’s excellent previous features “Samson and Delilah” and “Sweet Country.” – Guy Lodge

Occupied City

Section: Special Screenings

Director: Steve McQueen

Variety’s When it was announced that McQueen would be directing his first documentary feature, and that it would tackle the subject of the Holocaust, dealing with the victims of the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam (the city where McQueen now lives), my anticipation took the form of thinking: How, with a director of McQueen’s skill and imagination and gravity, could this be less than fascinating? But “Occupied City,” it’s my sad duty to report, is a good deal less than fascinating. I’ll be blunt: The film is a trial to sit through, and you feel that from almost the opening moments. – Owen Gleiberman

Project Silence

Section: Midnight Screenings

Director: Kim Tae Gon

Cast: Lee Sun Kyun, Ju Ji Hoon, Kim Hie Won

Variety’sKiller hounds pursue the survivors of a fog-bound traffic farrago in director Kim Tae Gon’s lavishly daft action spectacular. – Jessica Kiang

Strange Way of Life

Section: Special Screenings

Director: Pedro Almodóvar

Cast: Ethan Hawke, Pedro Pascal, Pedro Casablanc, Manu Ríos

Variety’sCommissioned by Saint Laurent Productions (which is also premiering a Jean-Luc Godard short at Cannes), this half-baked half-hour serves as a sexy showcase for creative director Anthony Vaccarello’s latest designs, while barely delivering on the promise that an Almodóvar-made “gay cowboy” movie conjures in the imagination. – Peter Debruge

The Sweet East

Section: Directors’ Fortnight

Director: Sean Price Williams.

Cast: Talia Ryder, Simon Rex, Earl Cave, Jacob Elordi, Jeremy O Harris, Ayo Edebiri

Variety’s Festival reviews just love to hype a breakout performance, to the extent that one worries about becoming the little critic that cried breakout. But here goes: Talia Ryder, lead actor in “The Sweet East,” is a star. There’s something of Kristen Stewart about her, not merely in terms of physical resemblance, but more in her gift for not just acting but reacting. – Catherine Bray

The Zone of Interest

Section: Competition

Director: Jonathan Glazer

Cast: Christian Friedel, Sandra Hüller, Medusa Knopf, Daniel Holzberg

Variety’sIt’s a remarkable film — chilling and profound, meditative and immersive, a movie that holds human darkness up to the light and examines it as if under a microscope. In a sense, it’s a movie that plays off our voyeurism, our curiosity to see the unseeable. Yet it does so with a bracing originality. – Owen Gleiberman

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *