A visit from the dead? How chic.
The Cannes Film Festival sprung back into action on Tuesday night, as this year’s opening night movie, “Final Cut (Coupez!)” received a 5-minute standing ovation. The gory zombie line, which straddled a tone somewhere between “The Blair Witch Project” and “Call My Agent,” kicked off a festival where few patrons were wearing masks in these COVID times.
To commemorate the 75th edition of Cannes, festival director Thierry Fremaux selected a French movie — not to mention a French jury president, “Titane” actor Vincent Lindon — to keep things local at the start of the celebration of movies in the French Riviera. “Final Cut,” which is called “Coupez!” in France (where it opened in theaters on the same day it bowed out-of-competition at Cannes), is directed by Michel Hazanavicius (“The Artist”).
Romain Duris stars as Remi, the director of a zombie movie, who also plays a director in his own film. As “Final Cut” begins, he’s seen torturing his cast and crew — just as they begin to encounter brushes with death from a bloodthirsty zombie lurking outside the set.
Oddly enough, “Final Cut” is the second zombie movie to open Cannes since 2019, when the global film elite gathered for Jim Jarmusch’s “The Dead Don’t Die,” a commercial and critical flop starring Bill Murray and Selena Gomez. Although “Final Cut” — which is a broader comedy — has been met with mixed reviews, it also fared better inside the Grand Auditorium Lumiere, where the audience could be heard rolling with laugher during the film’s second funnier half.
The first night of Cannes always opens with a festive French awards show. This year, Forest Whitaker made the trip to the South of France to receive an honorary Palme d’Or. But the evening took on a more somber tone than usual. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appeared via video to serve as a potent reminder of the war in his country. “I’m sure that the dictator will lose,” Zelenskyy said, in a pointed reference to Vladimir Putin.
Earlier in the day, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi denied allegations that he’d plagiarized his 2021 film “A Hero,” using his global platform as a Cannes jury member to try to clear his name after a former student suggested that he’d stolen the premise of her documentary.
The slate for this year’s Cannes includes “Top Gun: Maverick,” David Cronenberg’s “Crimes of the Future” and “Elvis.”