Megalopolis review: Francis Ford Coppola turns the Cannes Festival upside down

Megalopolis review: Francis Ford Coppola turns the Cannes Festival upside down
Megalopolis review: Francis Ford Coppola turns the Cannes Festival upside down

The director of the ‘Godfather’ saga, accompanied by a histrionic Adam Driver, builds a retrofuturistic satire on the debacle of Western civilization.

Today 07:23

By Manu Yáñez
For Frames

After four decades hanging around the imagination of Francis Ford Coppolafinally saw the light, on the screen of the Cannes Film Festivalthe long-awaitedMegalopolis‘, which did not disappoint in its ability to show us something never seen before. In fact, in the more than twenty years that this reviewer has been visiting CannesI had never seen a spectator/actor get up from his seat (in the theater Bazin) to dialogue with a character who responded to him from the screen. Yes, this happened around the middle of ‘Megalopolis‘, an excessive work in every sense, a film that is overflowing, disjointed, accelerated and shamelessly in love with itself. To begin with, the new blockbuster Coppola –which has invested 120 million dollars out of its own pocket for the occasion– is actually titled ‘Megalopolis: A fable‘ and is presented as a retrofuturistic satire in which the NY The 21st century faces the decline of Western civilization, which Coppola It is filtered by the iconography of the fall of the Roman Empire. Thus, the story is built from the confrontation between three representatives of power: Cicero, the mayor of New York (Giancarlo Esposito); Crassus, the city’s biggest banker (Jon Voight); and Caesar (Adam Driver)a scientist and architect who aspires to rebuild the city using a miraculous material called Megalon. In this distribution of roles, it should be noted that the character of Adam Driverwith his creative instinct, his transgressive spirit and his revolutionary thirst, acts as the obvious alter ego of his own Coppola.


But ‘Megalopolis‘is not content with presenting a struggle for power bathed in references to Shakespearebut also builds two love stories touched by adversity: the one starring Cease and the daughter of Pica (Nathalie Emmanuel), which could be seen as a rereading of ‘Romeo and Juliet‘; and the one that still unites Cease with his deceased wife (a narrative thread that refers to the myth of Orpheus and Eurydiceand rebound also to the ‘Rebecca‘ of Alfred Hitchcock). This narrative cocktail appears seasoned by an endless number of quotes from poets and philosophers, from Petrarch to Sappho, from Marcus Aurelius to Rousseau, from Ovid to Emerson. The dialogues invoke the avalanche of cultism and pedantry of the master’s cinema Jean-Luc Godard, with which the film also shares concern about the crisis of a Western culture hit by barbarism and the cult of ignorance. From his creative and financial vantage point, Coppola It shows us the dangerous self-destructive drift of the contemporary world and tries to breathe some light with its visionary spirit.

One of the biggest problems of ‘Megalopolis‘ – a flagrantly irregular work – is the limited success of its satirical side. Coppola turns the life of the wealthy New York classes into a true Roman circus, a grotesque that culminates in the wedding celebration between Crassus (Voight) and a young journalist (Aubrey Plazathe most inspired of the cast) who is actually in love with Cease (a histrionic driver). The chaos that he puts on stage Coppola could be described as a cross between the vulgar parties of Sorrentino’s ‘The Great Beauty’which in turn referred to Felliniand the taste for the exaltation of cinema Terry Gilliamwith who Coppola He shares here a quixotic vocation that neutralizes all sense of moderation and shame. The author of the ‘Godfather’ saga wants to turn upside down a world dominated by the most savage capitalism and populist-rooted politics, but his attack never quite hits the target. The impression remains that the filmmaker is too removed from reality to shake its foundations. In this sense, the spectacle of powerful men surrounded by frivolous and ignorant women is most anachronistic.

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