May 24, 2019
By Sarah White
CANNES, France (Reuters) – A three-and-a-half hour largely plotless movie set in a nightclub, featuring girls twerking from every angle and a 13-minute explicit sex scene in the toilet, claimed the dubious honor as the most universally panned film at Cannes on Friday.
Filmmaker Abdellatif Kechiche is no stranger to controversy, with his previous outings – including “Blue Is The Warmest Color”, which won the cinema festival’s top Palme d’Or prize in 2013 – also featuring long, graphic sex scenes.
But his latest movie “Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo”, where the action unfolds almost in real time, left viewers up in arms after its late night premiere on Thursday. Some attendees tweeted that they had left the screening early and posted pictures of a thinned out cinema as the lights came on.
Los Angeles Times critic Justin Chang said the movie was “the work of an embattled, controversy-seeking filmmaker who has decided to troll his audience”.
“The movie is playing in the main competition, which suggests the festival might be trolling us too,” Chang wrote.
A follow-up to 2017’s “Mektoub, My Love: Canto Uno” – which got a more mixed reception though reviewers had already questioned its voyeurism – the film follows a group of young friends in the south of France hanging out and partying.
The camera lingers on the bikini-clad women and their bottoms as they frolic in the sea and lounge around in the opening sequence, before the action moves to the nightclub for most of the rest of the film.
To a thumping ABBA-laden soundtrack, the women’s dancing takes center stage in almost hypnotic fashion as they gyrate, make out, and shake their backsides in tiny shorts.
The twerking is only broken by a few asides as the friends buy each other drinks and a long cunnilingus scene.
“What happens here is nothing more than gratuitous porn,” the Hollywood Reporter’s Boyd van Hoeij wrote, adding that in Kechiche’s other films, the explicit sex moments did not jar as much, building on a much more developed rapport between some of the characters.
Others also went to town on the movie and let rip at Kechiche for testing his audience’s patience.
“Even when the audience is induced into fits of uncontrollable laughter, they’re still unmistakably the butt of his big joke,” IndieWire’s David Ehrlich said.
(Editor’s note: graphic language in paragraph 9).
(Reporting by Sarah White; Editing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian)