In Cannes, “Megalopolis”, the Coppola catamaran

The long-awaited great work of Francis Ford Coppola is pschitt. His retrofuturist political fable does not stand up and is drowned in a pretentious and abstruse mixture.

Adam Driver and Nathalie Emmanuel in

Adam Driver and Nathalie Emmanuel in “Megalopolis”. Photo Backgrid USA/Bestimage

By Marie Sauvion

Published on May 17, 2024 at 6:45 a.m.

Updated May 17, 2024 at 7:05 a.m.

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Uno certain idea of ​​panache: when Francis Ford Coppola goes all-in, it’s on the red carpet And in competition. At 85, the Hollywood adventurer, Palme d’Or at Cannes for Secret conversation (1974) and Apocalypse now (1979), presented this Thursday the aptly named Megalopolis, a monumental project cherished since the 1980s and self-produced for 130 million dollars. A retrofuturist political fable coupled with a self-portrait of the artist as a citizen, which was among the most anticipated – and most exciting – works of this 77e editing. On arrival, what should I say? Patatras. We fall from a height, like the Roman Empire which serves as a model for New Rome, the city at the heart of the drama.

Two men confront each other, Mayor Franklin Cicero (Giancarlo Esposito) and Nobel-winning genius Cesar Catalina (Adam Driver, who we love at all costs), and through them, two visions of the world. The first is banking on a casino city, while the second, inventor of a revolutionary and indestructible material, wants to build “a city that makes people dream”. Nephew of a billionaire banker (Jon Voight), Cesar suffers the bitter hatred of his cousin Clodio (Shia LaBeouf, still a member of Guignol) and the resentment of his ex-mistress (Aubrey Plaza, very sitcomic). An inconsolable widower, the tortured hero nevertheless consoles himself with the city councilor’s daughter, Julia (Nathalie Emmanuel, bland defector from Game Of Thrones), which, long live women!, gives him his inspiration.

A bitch, a muse, welcome to the eighties – it is however permissible to regret the trip back in time Peggy Sue got married (1986). However, the immortal author of Godfather clearly burns to chronicle contemporary America, its decadence, its divisions, its despair. It will take several viewings (and a lot of courage) to untangle the threads of this shaky rigmarole. The fiction is scattered between a satellite which threatens to fall and annihilate the Earth, the superpower of its hero – he stops time with a snap of his fingers without us knowing what it is for –, the plots of Clodio, a child killer, a false virgin, poor and faceless rioters, and we will spare you quotes from Marcus Aurelius.

That Coppola struggles to captivate with the sum film he so desired is heartbreaking. That he misses “the kiss” between Cesar and the muse is incomprehensible. Let him think he’s Verhoeven, period Showgirl, during a sex scene between LaBeouf and the bitch, mind-blowing. In this artificial and golden aesthetic, stifling, already dated, a handful of emotions still float (Talia Shire, the filmmaker’s sister, as a mother who says “Ouch” when her son kisses her). Visions, too, like Adam Driver, bloodied, descending a staircase in a blur of narcotics. The lucky people from Cannes were even treated to a happening: after 1 hour 24 minutes, a guy came on stage with a microphone to ask the character a question… who answered him, from the film, like a press conference. In the small Bazin room at the Palais des Festivals, however, some critics had already given up their arms. They came, they saw, they left.

o Megalopolis, by Francis Ford Coppola (2h18). With Adam Driver, Nathalie Emmanuel, Giancarlo Esposito, Aubrey Plaza, Shia LaBeouf, Jon Voight. No release date.


Cannes Film Festival 2024

Reviews of films in competition, meetings with filmmakers, the jury, revelations… Télérama brings you the 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, from May 14 to 25.

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