Cannes slowed down today, or perhaps it sped up: two, as opposed to yesterday's three, top competition titles screened, and both were comedies. First was Bruno Dumont's Slack Bay, which continues and expands upon the comedic strains of his last work, Li'l Quinquin, to reportedly mixed results. The reviews are mixed at least, from some early, encouraging write-ups to several rather scathing ones. But then, even more unexpected than Dumont tackling a knockabout period comedy: the strongest contender for the Palme d'Or yet in Maren Ade's Toni Erdmann. Reviews for the German director's third film, and first in seven years, are about the best for any female-directed film up for the Palme in many years, not that that's a hard bar to reach. Still, with unanimous enthusiasm among journalists - and for a comedy, that most divisive of genres - it's the undoubted frontrunner so far.
Toni Erdmann takes a surprise but welcome first place in the Screen On Screen Palme Poll ahead of yesterday's leader Sieranevada. I'm willing to bet that this jury, as with many before it, won't be averse to taking a few risks with its picks, but the reception to Slack Bay hasn't indicated inclusion among the winners; it claims last place, unfortunately, behind Staying Vertical.
Un Certain Regard progressed in fine form today too, perhaps drawing more overall acclaim over its first two days than the main comp has (no shocks there then). Both Stephanie di Giusto's star-studded French biopic The Dancer and, particularly, Kirill Serebrennikov's The Student bowed to responses from critics that were ebullient at best, and fair at worst. In Critics' Week, there was muted praise for Davy Chou's Diamond Island, and Joachim Lafosse's After Love was met even more mildly still in Directors' Fortnight. But its competitor, Pablo Larrain's Neruda, made the strongest noise yet in the sidebars, with adulation befitting of a top strand slot, reminiscent of the love for last year's Directors' Fortnight screener My Golden Days.
Diamond Island and Neruda make for obvious frontrunners for top prizes in Critics' Week and Directors' Fortnight respectively. Neither of today's new UCR titles can quite claim the level of praise given to yesterday's Clash, however, though The Student fits pretty nicely into a promising second place.
Slack Bay (Bruno Dumont)
Variety / The Playlist / The Wrap / The Guardian / IndieWire / The Telegraph / The Irish Times / The Hollywood Reporter / The Film Stage / Cine-Vue / Little White Lies / Screen Daily / The A.V. Club
Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
Un Certain Regard
The Dancer (Stephanie di Giusto)
The Student (Kirill Serebrennikov)
Diamond Island (Davy Chou)
After Love (Joachim Lafosse)
Neruda (Pablo Larrain)