Festivals: Review of “Grand Tour”, a film by Miguel Gomes (Official Competition) – #Cannes2024

Festivals: Review of “Grand Tour”, a film by Miguel Gomes (Official Competition) – #Cannes2024
Festivals: Review of “Grand Tour”, a film by Miguel Gomes (Official Competition) – #Cannes2024

By Diego Batlle, from Cannes


Published on 05-23-2024

Director of The face you deserve, That beloved month of August and the trilogy of Arabian Nights competes for the Palme d’Or with this experimental film that in some ways continues the line of Taboo (2012).

Grand Tour (Portugal-France-Italy/2024). Director: Miguel Gomes. Cast: Crista Alfaiate, Gonçalo Waddington, Cláudio Da Silva and Tran Lang-Khê. Screenplay: Mariana Ricardo, Telmo Churro, Maureen Fazendeiro and Miguel Gomes. Photography: Rui Poças, Sayombhu Mukdeeprom and Gui Liang. Duration: 129 minutes. In Official Competition.Edward Abbot (Gonçalo Waddington) is a bureaucrat, a second-line official in the British government who arrives in Burma (today Myanmar) in 1918. His main objective seems to be to reunite with his girlfriend Molly Singleton (Crista Alfaiate), whom he has not seen for seven years. But a series of setbacks (for example, a train derailment or various illnesses) will cause everything to take much longer than expected. One could say that this is not a very promising synopsis, but in Gomes’ films sometimes the how matters more than the what. And the how, the form, is another narrative and visual prodigy that the Portuguese director has been delving into in depth film after film (Taboo is the one that has the most obvious connections with it).

With photography by his compatriot Rui Poças in the studio, Gomes filmed the interior scenes respecting the aesthetics and costumes of the time; However, when the story travels to Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore, Japan and China (already with Sayombhu Mukdeeprom and Gui Liang as DPs) the images are current, thus shamelessly embracing anachronisms and both urban and nature documentaries. (there are images of monkeys and pandas in jungles and forests). And the story basically advances from the literary voiceovers that are heard in the language of each new country to which the action is transferred. Except for a few plans, the vast majority of Grand Tour -which has some Sans Soleilby Chris Marker- is in black and white, and in several passages deepening the chiaroscuro and texture of the film.

The first part has Edward as the almost exclusive protagonist, while the second is monopolized by Molly in what ends up being the same tragic story told from two different points of view. As always in Gomes’ cinema, the presence of music, live artists, and performances specific to each place, become an element as important or more important than the dialogues or conflicts that are outlined.

Perhaps the fascination effect of Grand Tour be somewhat less than that of Taboo because there are certain elements (such as a certain aesthetic typical of silent cinema or reflections on colonialism) are reiterated and both stories extend over two hours, but Gomes’ new film continues to be an amazing, curious, in many ways experience. revealing, with the spirit of adventure cinema and that unmistakable radical and experimental seal of the Portuguese director.

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