Cannes: Singing Scenes Add Musical Spark Across Lineup

9:12 AM PST 05/23/2014 by Georg Szalai
"Two Days, One Night" with Marion Cotillard is among the Cannes festival films featuring a singing scene in a car

"We saw lots of films with sequences of characters singing songs together -- often in a car," says festival director Thierry Fremaux.

As the 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival nears its end, one of the things reviewers and industry observers may remember about this year's official selection is the number of singing scenes.

"For the selection, we saw lots of films with sequences of characters singing songs together -- often in a car," festival director Thierry Fremaux said when he unveiled the program.

From the Dardenne brothers' competition entry Two Days, One Night to Critics' Week film Darker Than Midnight, car (and other) singing scenes have had a presence across the festival.

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"Song in the American or French cinema of the '30s was also a tradition," Fremaux told THR. "The directors would like to share something with the audience and are writing and describing characters with music. Music and song are really part of what we are."

Are singing scenes a cliche? "Singing [in films] is defined as a cliche, but it's good, too, and in these films it's part of the storytelling," Fremaux said. "It is very important inside the narrative process. It's about characters sharing something with each other and also with the audience."

Here's a look at some of the Cannes 2014 films featuring singing scenes, in cars and elsewhere:

Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's Two Days, One Night (competition)
Three characters sing along to "Gloria" from Van Morrison's band Them on the car radio in this social drama. The scene comes during a moment of uplift in a long battle for Marion Cotillard's character to keep her job.

Sebastiano Riso's Darker Than Midnight (Critics' Week)
There's a car singing scene about a 14-year-old runaway who is being looked after by young hustlers. It features the protagonist and a group of gay Sicilian prostitutes singing an Italian pop song.

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Andre Techine's In the Name of My Daughter (out of competition)
The true-crime story of the power struggle among a casino queen, her rebellious daughter and a playboy lawyer includes a scene in which Catherine Deneuve and a kid sing along to "Stand by Me" in Italian on the car radio while driving along the Riviera.

Xavier Dolan's Mommy (competition)
"Maybe the longest song is in Xavier Dolan's Mommy," a mother-son drama, Fremaux said. "There is a complete song from Celine Dion," called "On ne change pas." Added Fremaux: "He goes very far, and we are totally with the characters."

Celine Sciamma's Girlhood (Directors' Fortnight)
The section's opening film, a social drama, includes a scene in which the four members of a girl gang lip sync and sing along to Rihanna's "Diamonds" in a hotel room while wearing shoplifted outfits with the security tags still on.

Abderrahmane Sissako's Timbuktu (competition)
In this drama about Islamic fundamentalism in Mali, one scene shows a woman singing as two men play instruments in the privacy of a home in Timbuktu, where music has been banned. When Islamic fundamentalists overhear them, they are arrested. The singer ends up getting 40 lashes for singing and another 40 for being in a room with men. She sings again while being lashed.

Nadav Lapid'sThe Kindergarten Teacher (Critics' Week)
The Israeli drama includes several scenes in which the teacher sings patriotic songs with her students and one where she does a choreographed dance in a nightclub.

Email: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai

 

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