With a wild Andrea Arnold film, a hilarious German comedy and Jim Jarmuschs hymn to Iggy and the Stooges, Cannes 2016 has been the best in years
Here at the Cannes film festival, the organisers like to get the day under way with some animal antics aboard the main stage. With the delegates still finding their seats for the 8.30am screening, a sniffer dog named Strafus inhales the scent of the curtain that conceals the big screen. On the assumption that if the creature likes what it smells it will go about its job quietly and create an unholy ruckus if it doesnt, you might say that at Cannes, even the dogs are film critics.
Anyway, Im taking the absence of barking as proof that this, the 69th festival, has been an especially good vintage. Outside the Palais the weather has been balmy. Inside, at times, it has felt positively fevered as visitors barely have the chance to proclaim one film a masterpiece before, hey presto, theyre shuttled straight into the next. This, some are excitably saying, has been the best lineup in years; maybe (whisper, dont jinx it) the best in living memory. Everybody has been drinking the same addictive Kool-Aid. Theyre wandering the Palais with wide, dopey grins. Indirectly, I suspect, we have Toni Erdmann to thank.
When Toni Erdmann played on the opening weekend it sent the place into raptures. Written and directed by Maren Ade, the film is that reputed oxymoron, a German comedy, except that this time the joke is on us because Toni Erdmanns a hoot. Sandra Hller is Ines, a brittle, Bucharest-based management consultant whose sterile existence is sent into a spin by her puckish, burly dad (Peter Simonischek), who rocks up in a wig and Ken Dodd-ish false teeth, variously claiming to be the German ambassador or Ion Tiriacs tennis partner. True, Ades high-concept conceit is not dissimilar from a Hollywood TV caper (zany father teaches kid to laugh again). But Toni Erdmann possesses a disreputable charm that is constantly surprising and finally deeply moving. It established a giddy, buoyant air that Cannes has been riding ever since.