Unhappy, alienated America on view at film fest

9th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

DEAUVILLE, France, Sept 9 (AFP) - If movies coming out of a country speak to the fears and aspirations of its people, then Americans must be feeling very much strangers in a strange land right now, judging from the Deauville Festival of American Film.

DEAUVILLE, France, Sept 9 (AFP) - If movies coming out of a country speak to the fears and aspirations of its people, then Americans must be feeling very much strangers in a strange land right now, judging from the Deauville Festival of American Film.

Alienation is the one theme that has emerged from the diverse features screened at the 10-day Deauville festival, which wraps up in this chic Normandy seaside resort on Sunday.

Feelings of isolation dominated fare as different as 'The Matador', the opening film starring Pierce Brosnan as a lonely hit-man desperate to make a bland businessman his friend, 'Transamerica', a tale about a transsexual who discovers she is not alone in this world when she has to care for a son she didn't know she had, and 'Elizabethtown', a romantic comedy with Kirsten Dunst providing succour to a suicidal character played by Orlando Bloom.

Bright-but-impossible-to-fathom young women deliberately cut themselves off from true companionship to realise twisted ambitions in 'When Will I Be Loved?' and 'Pretty Persuasion'.

'Brick' brought a noir edge to the world of high school cliques with a student loner channeling Humphrey Bogart to crack a murder mystery, 'Goal' and 'Cinderella Man' looked at downtrodden sporting heros fighting the odds, their families and the establishment to get to the top.

'Crash', an enthusiastically received ensemble piece about racism and urban isolation, gave the alienation message a gritty edge while holding out some hope of redemption.

Bill Murray confronts mid-life emptiness by travelling cross-country to meet ex-girlfriends in a quest to see if one gave birth to a son in 'Broken Flowers'.

And in 'The 40-Year-Old Virgin', another mid-lifer attempts to ditch his unique sexual status to comedic effect.

'Crash' director Paul Haggis summed up his message by saying this week: "On a deep, cellular level, we need the touch of strangers".

But others suggested that their choice of films has something to do with an atmosphere in the United States at the moment in which people were feeling more and more separated from each other.

Duncan Tucker, the director of 'Transamerica', said the preponderance of road movies highlighted a desire by filmmakers to reconcile the differences in US society -- some of which he hinted may be the result of political conflict under US President George W Bush.

"America is so huge and ethnically diverse and polarised right now," he said after his film was screened Tuesday.

Brosnan, an Irish actor living in the United States, went further and laid bare Hollywood's general disdain for the man in the White House.

"This man called President Bush has a lot to answer for," he said at the start of the festival. "I don't know if this man is really taking care of America."

The reflection of US society in its celluloid mirror will be brought into even sharper focus with the speeches at the close of the Deauville festival on Sunday -- the day America commemorates the fourth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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