MADRID — Starring Lambert Wilson (“Of Gods and Men”), Pierre Niney (“Yves Saint Laurent”) and Audrey Tautou (“Amelie), Jerome Salle’s Wild Bunch-sold “The Odyssey” will world premiere at San Sebastian, closing this year’s festival.
A film on the life of deep-sea explorer Jacques Cousteau, structured around his troubled relationship with his son, Philippe, “The Odyssey” charts not only Cousteau’s game-changing discovery of life at the bottom of the ocean, and near unique ability to communicate his excitement to others, but his halting understanding of the importance of his own family. Boasting a stellar French cast, six-time Cesar-nominated Lambert plays Cousteau, Tautou, star of multiple other French films such as “A Very Long Engagement,” limns his wife. Niney, regarded by many as the finest actor of his generation, portrays son Philippe.
A director of ambitious, big-canvas French movies, Salle’s latest movie, “Zulu,” toplining Orlando Bloom and Forest Whitaker, closed the Cannes Festival in 2013. Director of 2005 French original “Anthony Zimmer,” re-made as “The Tourist,” starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, Salle teamed with Wild Bunch on “Largo Winch” and its sequel, attempts at French issue-themed action-thrillers with an international reach in setting and sales.
“The Odyssey’s” closing slot world premiere heightens the presence of Wild Bunch at San Sebastian, a festival it has always supported and where Bertrand Bonello’s potentially explosive “Nocturama” already plays in competition this year.
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Produced by Pan Europeenne and Fidelity Films, two of France’s strongest indie production houses, “The Odyssey” is budgeted at a reported €35 million ($38.9 million), making it one of France’s biggest productions of 2016.
“The Odyssey’s” closing night berth also continues a tradition of big French world premieres from big French companies closing San Sebastian, where, during the fest’s last day, a film can command considerable and almost exclusive press attention as well as play to an enthusiastic European audience.
Gaumont essayed this strategy, world premiering “The Untouchables” as San Sebastian’s closing movie in 2011. It went on to earn $426.5 million worldwide. “The Odyssey” will play out of competition after San Sebastian’s closing gala on Sept. 24.