The screening of Kiriłło Serebriennikov’s “Tchaikovsky’s Wife” was the highlight of the second day of Cannes, and its creator protested in Russian against the war. The Golden Palm surprise was a lifetime achievement for Tom Cruise. Guysdor also presented the festival’s most anticipated title – “Top Gun: Maverick”, the 1986 sequel.
It was a very emotional day for the participants of the 75th Cannes Forum. First, the difficult film of the Russian showrunner Kirisho Serebrenkov, “Tchaikovsky’s Wife”, was shown in the main competition. The audience responded to him with a standing ovation, and his creator said after the premiere that he was protesting against the war. The phrase “Not for war” was followed by applause.
In the evening, the long-awaited action movie “Top Gun: Maverick” by Joseph Kosinski has been postponed several times due to the pandemic. The image is a sequel to Tony Scott’s 1986 hit Top Gun.
The surprise, which the organizers kept a secret until the end, was the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Golden Palm to Tom Cruise before the premiere. It was also chosen by Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker the day before at the festival’s opening ceremony.
The dissident and the Russian controversy
Kirill Serebnikov is one of the most famous contemporary Russian directors, who has been in conflict with the Kremlin for years. He protested against the Russian army’s invasion of Georgia, signed a letter in defense of the Pussy Riot squad members, and condemned the annexation of Crimea. He didn’t have to wait long for results to come in.
Already in 2017, the premiere of his dance “Nuriejew” was canceled, due to “backward choreography”, although in fact he was blocking a work with a gay theme. Soon, he was charged with embezzlement of a large sum, allegedly from public funds, in favor of the “Balaburba” cultural project in the Gogol Center. At that time, he was the technical director. The charges were fabricated and the director was placed under house arrest. When his film “Summer” premiered in Cannes in 2018, the artist was not present at the festival.
In 2020, the director was given a three-year suspended prison sentence, and his passport was also taken away. Once again, the spectacular “Petrov Flu” presented in Cannes was without the artist. In March, his sentence was unexpectedly shortened and he was allowed to leave the country for Germany, where he is working on a play. He does not intend to return to Russia.
However, the presence of his latest film “Tchaikovsky’s Wife” in the Cannes competition sparked controversy from the start. One co-funding entity (similar to the “Petrov Flu” before) is a friend of Putin’s, oligarch Roman Abramovich, who was subject to sanctions after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In an interview with Variety, the director vigorously defended him. – Roman Abramovich helped many independent Russian films – he explained. – He did a lot for independent Russian art and contemporary art in general. He did a lot for me, personally supported me through tough times – I admit it.
In the same interview, he criticized the boycott of Russian artists. Russian culture is about the fragility of life. It is about oppressed people. who fight for truth or justice. This is real culture. Not ideological. Not advertising. And assess, I think this kind of culture should not be boycotted.
Serebrenkov also emphasized that he is a Russian artist, who is connected by culture, language and history with the country that shaped him. I will continue to love my culture. Tchaikovsky, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Bulgakov, Tarkovsky and other brilliant artists who made me what I am. He said: I do not want to betray them.
Gay wife, or Russian taboo
In “Tchaikovsky’s Wife,” the director explores the turbulent relationship between famous Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky and his wife Antonina Milyukova, whom he blames for her misfortunes and ultimately drives her crazy.
Serebrennikov shows the whole story through her eyes – he meets Tchaikovsky, falls madly in love with him, hears his music, and over time gets married. Although he rejects the proposal, acknowledging that he will never love a woman (let alone homosexuality), affectionate Antonina agrees, enticing him with a large dowry. Eventually they marry, which becomes a tragedy for both of them. She did not agree to the divorce, decided to persevere. Humiliated, shameful and rejected, she slowly falls into madness.
“The real life of Tchaikovsky is little known in Russia,” says the director. – After his death, the authorities changed his biography so that they made him an icon of Soviet ideology. All the controversial moments in his life are erased, it is forbidden to talk about them – he adds.
The picture received mixed reviews. Critics of Variety and the Guardian praise the visual art and erotic performance of Alyona Mikhailovna as Antonina, but accuse him of being tall and “totally hysterical,” and Screen Daily even writes about the “weird narrative.”
Tom Cruise is still like Superman
Hollywood star Tom Cruise came to Cannes for the second time, 30 years after the movie “Beyond the Horizon”, in which he starred with his ex-wife Nicole Kidman.
After receiving the Palme d’Or, he talked about the adventures the pandemic had given the film and crew. He emphasized that unlike other filmmakers, he preferred to wait two years to “upload” the film on one of the streaming platforms, because he makes his films “only on the big screen”.
For years he was opposed to a sequel to “Top Gun”, but when he finally got to the script that hijacked him, he gave up. He was also waiting for “technology to develop, which would make it possible to “make what a fighter pilot experiences more realistically”.
Production details have been known for a long time. After more than 30 years in the US Army, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Cruz) is on top. He is a professional pilot who tests the latest machinery. When he heads up a group of experts training pilots for a mission that has never happened before, he has to meet Lt. Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller). This is the son of his friend Gus, who died years ago during an errand. The defector has to face not only missions but also the ghosts of the past.
A typical action picture, taken to improve the mood of fans of the genre, but with respect to the viewer, as the reviewers emphasized. Because their ratings are exceptionally high. They agreed that the sequel is better than the first, which is very rare for a sequel. Tom Cruise hasn’t lost anything of his Superman model (just because he can fly so much) and still performs crazy acrobatics on his own as a licensed pilot.
“This is not just a cash jump, believe me” – confirms one reviewer, and it means a lot in the case of blockbuster classics.
Finally, a Polish accent, because after a sweltering Wednesday in Cannes, today in the main competition is Jerzy Skolimowski’s painting “Io”, a loose reference to Robert Bresson’s “For Luck, Balthasar!”.
“The Guardian”, “Variety”, “Screen Daily”, tvn24.pl
Main image source: Environmental Protection Agency