Thursday 14 May 2015

Cannes 2015: Mad Max Fury Road by George Miller

Cannes sometimes has a stereotype attached to it, that it only shows pretentious, slow, arthouse (and for some, foreign films always mean arthouse!) but it has not been true for several decades now, it changed on that electrifying opening night of 1992, for which Giles Jacob had picked Basic Instinct. Since then, genre films (Body Snatchers the following years, the usual Midnight screenings) have found their space in the line up. And what a glorious day indeed when you can watch Mad Max Fury Road in the giant Theatre Lumiere with an audience of over 2000 journalists and industry not hiding their enthusiasm at all.

Mad Max Fury Road has been a labour for love for George Miller, the director of the original trilogy, who has been trying to get this film, at first meant as a quadruquel with Mel Gibson returning, only to evolve into a completely different film, with Mel Gibson being dropped in the process. In Mad Max: Fury Road, Mad Max is a lost and solitary wanderer in a post apocalyptic world when he is kidnapped by the henchmen of a tyrannic leader called Immortan Joe. He manages to escape and follows a group of women on the run and in their search of their childhood homeland.

George Miller has quite simply managed the impossible. The spirit of the original trilogy is very much present, be it with the post-apocalyptic outfits worn by the characters, and several nod to its 80’s roots too (I loved the hard rock player who constantly follows the baddies’ convoy on its own truck, complete with a fire spewing guitar). And the action is insane and barely lets go, with some practical stunts of great physicality, with a devil may care approach to it that few films manage nowadays. George Miller has said he has used mannequins rather than CGI for car crashes, as they feel very real indeed, we are talking crazy stunts with people jumping in and out of cars on stilts and the brush of explosions feeling very palpable, as is the smell of gasoline.

But the director does not just repeat himself, even though the action is upgraded compared to the original films. He also manages to add some depth and characterisation, no mean feat considering most of the film consists in one giant car chase. And more unexpected of all, there is a welcome feminist message (which has already attracted criticism from moronic meninists!), women being the equal of men but being allowed a certain diversity too. It can be a bit of an easy way out to have your female characters being just tom-boyish warriors, but here we have a whole range, from ethereal and virginal women that the baddies keep as their breeders, to a bunch of older women who can more than defend themselves. Max here is not so much a secondary character as somebody who accompanies the action, a wandering man with a fractured past But let’s face it however, the film might as well been called Imperator Furiosa: Fury Road, as Charlize Theron a force of nature, the heart and soul of the film and it’s real star. In a world of overblown yet dull blockbusters, Mad Mx Fury Road is a breathe of fresh air!


Official Selection, Out of Competition

Mad Max: Fury Road. USA 2015. Directed by George Miller. Starring Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, Zoe Kravitz...

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