Last Updated: May 22, 2009By

By ALI NADERZAD On Thursday I climbed into the small press bus provided by the Festival and went to Cap D’Antibes, about thirty minutes away from Cannes on the Coast, to attend AMFAR’s Cinema Against AIDS gala. The Hotel du Cap Eden Roc is gorgeous. There I ran into my colleague Carol Guerrero from Colombian radio (she’s based in Paris). The red carpet arrivals started soon after that with Paolo Coelho appearing first. Everyone showed up as expected, although Bill Clinton who was probably the most awaited guest never materialized–he already had a room at the hotel, and so no quotes from him, unfortunately.

One of the films I was looking forward to the most this year in the Un Certain Regard selection is Heitor Dahlia’s A Deriva (pictured), starring Vincent Cassel with Camila Belle in a supporting role. Dahlia’s Cheiro do Ralo, which came out a couple of years ago, is one of my favorite films from Brazil these last few years for its humorous take on despair. Now Dahlia is casting Vincent Cassel and is going to Cannes. The expectations are high, which makes the disappointment even more pronounced. I had attended the premiere in the Debussy Theatre, with Cassel and the rest of the team in attendance (I still had my tuxedo on, from the AMFAR gala). Cassel said cheekily announced he was moving to Brazil and that ‘something is happening there.’

Well, that’s likely true but they ain’t happening in Buzios, a sun-drenched resort town about two hours outside of Rio. I’ve been to Buzios, the place is gorgeous. But you don’t shoot a film there, that’s for dilettantes. Dahlia should have stuck to the rugged terrain of Brazil’s metropolises, like, for example, Sao Paulo (where Cheiro was shot). How much drama can you stick in such an idyllic spot? This kind of locale has already been claimed by aging Sicilians and Russian nouveau-riches.

Cassel’s Portuguese is impressive, and his acting is reliable, as always. In fact, it’s very good. But there’s little chemistry between him and his lover Camila Belle and the story never develops tension, the kind that should have you on the edge of your seat in a story about a man and a woman lashing out violently at each other. It’s a cliche, but there’s a lot to be exploited from it and a viable, taut narrative can be developed. Dahlia was not present that day in the rewrite session, apparently. Did he think that his male lead would carry the entire film on his broad shoulders? Or that perhaps the beauty of a Brazilian beach town would put a spell on the viewing public, poor story development be damned? I’ve just about written the review for the film, I think, and so I should stop there. This morning I went to see Terry Gilliam’s “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus.” It was fun to watch for a while, but the film is too recognizable, unfortunately. Full steam ahead! The Cannes Festival is almost over; on slate for today and tomorrow are Gaspar Noe’s Enter The Void and Tsai Ming Liang’s Visages, with Jean-Pierre Leaud and Fanny Ardant.