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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

‘Anatomy of a Fall’ wins the Palme d’Or

“Anatomy of a Fall” director Justine Triet, right, accepts the Palme d’Or from presenter Jane Fonda on Saturday at the 76th Cannes Film Festival.

By Manohla Dargis

The 76th Cannes Film Festival ended Saturday with the Palme d’Or awarded to “Anatomy of a Fall.” Directed by Justine Triet, this intellectual thriller centers on a woman who is brought to trial after the mysterious death of her husband. Written by Triet and Arthur Harari, the film was an early favorite with critics.

Triet is the third woman to have won the Palme. Julia Ducournau won in 2021 for “Titane,” and Jane Campion took the prize in 1993 for “The Piano.”

The Palme was presented to Triet by Jane Fonda, who noted the “historic” number of women — seven — who had films competing for the top honor. The strong main competition, with a jury led by director Ruben Ostlund, effectively announced that the festival had returned to full strength after several unsteady pandemic years.

The Grand Prix, essentially the festival’s runner-up award, was given to “The Zone of Interest.” Directed by Jonathan Glazer and based on the novel of the same title by Martin Amis, the film centers on the commandant of Auschwitz and his wife, whose home is adjacent to the extermination camp. An icy exploration of the banality of evil — the family eats, relaxes and sleeps to the constant sounds of screams, shouts and gunfire — the movie sharply divided the critics here.

“Fallen Leaves,” the latest from Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki, won the Jury Prize. A love story in a gently funny and melancholic key, the movie stars Alma Pöysti and Jussi Vatanen as a couple who meet one night in Helsinki. The actors accepted the award on behalf of their director, who sat out the presentation.

Best director went to Vietnamese-French filmmaker Tran Anh Hung for “The Pot-au-Feu.” A sumptuous drama set in the late 19th century, the film stars Juliette Binoche and Benoît Magimel as a gourmand couple who live and cook in rural France. The movie’s focus on the sensual pleasures of food charmed many, although a less-enchanted critic likened it to a French Nancy Meyers movie.

The screenwriting prize was awarded to Yuji Sakamoto for “Monster.” Directed by Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda, this touching drama centers on a boy whose sudden behavior issues at school escalate with profound consequences. “Monster” features a delicate score by Ryuichi Sakamoto, who died last month.

The best actor prize went to the great veteran Japanese actor Koji Yakusho, star of Wim Wenders’ “Perfect Days.” The film centers on a loner who works cleaning (some amazing) public restrooms in Tokyo. His quiet, routinized existence is disrupted by an unexpected visit from a niece, an interlude that brings him joy but also anguish. Wenders, whose documentary “Anselm” was shown out of competition, watched with a broad smile as Yakusho received the award.

The best actress prize went to Merve Dizdar for her role as a teacher in “About Dry Grasses” from Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan. This slow-boiling drama centers on a male teacher, Samet, who becomes increasingly bitter about his job teaching in remote Eastern Anatolia. Dizdar’s character, Nuray, helps him through his crisis, a stereotypical role that the actress elevates with warmth and subtlety.

The prize for Un Certain Regard, a section that tends to feature younger directors and what the festival calls “more artistically daring” work than in the main competition, went to “How to Have Sex,” the directorial debut from British filmmaker Molly Manning Walker. The prize for first feature, the Caméra d’Or, was given to “Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell,” from Vietnamese-born director Thien An Pham. The Palme for the best short film was presented to “27,” from Hungarian animator Flóra Anna Buda.

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