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Francis Ford Coppola’s “Megalopolis” was met with rave reactions in Cannes

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Adam Driver, from left, Aubrey Plaza, director Francis Ford Coppola, Laurence Fishburne and Grace VanderWaal before the premiere of the film ‘Megalopolis’ at the 77th Cannes International Film Festival. Photo: Andreea Alexandru Invision / AP / NTB

Of NTB | 19.05.2024 06:09:33

Culture and entertainment: Reviews of “Megalopolis” have ranged from “insanity of gigantic proportions” to “the craziest thing I’ve ever seen,” but Coppola has once again made the big talk. No film this year was greeted with more curiosity than “Megalopolis,” in which Coppola has invested $120 million of his own money after selling off part of the vineyard he owned.

Not unlike Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” some 45 years ago, “Megalopolis” was accompanied by rumors of production problems and doubts about the film’s commercial appeal.

In the film, Aubrey Plaza plays an aspiring TV journalist named Wow Platinum, Giancarlo Esposito is the mayor, Laurence Fishburne is Caesar’s driver and narrator, and Shia LaBeouf plays an obnoxious cousin named Claudio.

Coppola, wearing a straw hat and carrying a cane, arrived on the Cannes red carpet with one of her grandchildren, Romy Coppola Mars, as the soundtrack to “The Godfather” played over the speakers.

The reviews were divided. Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian called the film “mega-bloated and mega-boring”. Tim Grierson in Screen Daily described it as a “disaster”, while Kevin Maher in the Times of London referred to it as a “brain-bursting abomination”. Jessica Kiang in Variety opined that the film was “a folly of such gargantuan proportions that it’s like observing the actual fall of Rome”.

According to the critics, Coppola challenges film conventions throughout “Megalopolis”. During a screening in Los Angeles before the Cannes festival, it was reported that many were confused by the experimental film. “There are zero commercial prospects, and that’s good for him,” one of the attendees told Puck.

“Megalopolis” is dedicated to Coppola’s wife, Eleanor Coppola, who died in April.

The film is a fable set in a futuristic New York, and is about an architect, played by Adam Driver, with a grand vision of a more harmonious metropolis, who also has the ability to manipulate time. The film is designed as a Roman epic. Driver’s character is named Caesar, and the film’s New York includes a modern Colosseum.

After the screening, Coppola and the film received a standing ovation for ten minutes from the audience. The director finally took the microphone and emphasized the film’s message of human community and hope. He said that “we are one human family and that is the one we should be loyal to”, and described “hope” as “the most beautiful word in the English language”.

Some critics nevertheless expressed admiration for the film’s ambitions. Bilge Ebiri of New York Magazine called it “perhaps the craziest thing I’ve ever seen”, and David Ehrlich of IndieWire praised the film’s creative approach, which may not have resulted in an abundance of dramatically connected scenes, but gave the film a looseness that made it fascinating to watch. David Rooney in The Hollywood Reporter described the film as a work of audacity and a bold experiment that “reflects our chaotic times, both politically and socially.”

(© NTB)

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