Is it the topic of romance for an older woman, as in the storyline regarding Millie Marquand (a sometimes uncomfortable Anouk Aimee), a famed French actress who now is being offered only "the mother" parts and whose sometime husband Viktor Kovner (an easy and assured Maximilian Schell) is, in European director fashion, currently off with yet another of his string of young fling things? Or is it career accomplishment for a middle-aged woman, as re: actress-turning-neophyte director Alice Palmer (Greta Scacchi) and her attempts to find a lead and financing for her film about just such an older woman, which drive her to various involvements with frenetic yet furtive financier Kaz Naiman (Zack Norman, a regular in the Jaglom troupe) and with powerful studio producer Rick Yorkin (Ron Silver)? Or is the theme perhaps about a young woman finding authenticity, as seen in the desires of one Blue (newcomer Jenny Gabrielle, just awful), the unknown lead of an unknown indie film that wins acclaim along the Croisette?
The answer is, it's none of those more than all. Although Jaglom films routinely have multiple storylines, these in "Festival in Cannes" fail to have innate relationships with each other; they only brush together due to the accidental frictions of multiple people sharing similar aims and occupying a certain single space Yet, just as with his earlier works, "Festival in Cannes" for every audience agony provides elsewhere audience ecstasy: A scene in which Aimee and Schell enact a wise-in-years and warm-in-heart reconciliation is so perfectly rendered it's breathtaking.
The use of following shots sans Steadicam is distracting, with the picture often jiggling more than Cannes' famed bare-breasted babes on the beach. (As some catalogs say, “Item not pictured.”) “Festival in Cannes” succeeds best when the camera, and the characters, remain still and simple. Starring Anouk Aimee, Greta Scacchi, Maximilian Schell, Ron Silver, Zack Norman and Jenny Gabrielle. Directed and written by Henry Jaglom. Produced by John Goldstone. A Paramount Classics release. Drama. Rated PG-13 for brief strong language. Running time: 99 min.