Entertainment & Arts

Cannes Film Festival: 'Open race' for Palme d'Or

Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux in Blue is the Warmest Colour
Image caption Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux star in Blue is the Warmest Colour

Films about New York folk singers, young lesbian lovers and a tangled French-Iranian family will be among the contenders when the top prize is handed out at the Cannes Film Festival later.

The favourites for the Palme d'Or include Blue is the Warmest Colour, an explicit story about two French women.

The Coen brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis and Iranian director Asghar Farhadi's drama The Past have also been tipped.

The contest for this year's Palme d'Or is "wide open", Variety magazine said.

"Usually by this point in the Cannes Film Festival, the race for the Palme d'Or has narrowed itself down to one or two clear frontrunners," Variety magazine's senior film critic Justin Chang wrote.

"It's a testament to the strength of this year's competition slate, however, that no single runaway favourite seems to have declared itself," he said, adding that five or six films had made "strong cases for themselves".

Image caption Oscar Isaac has won plaudits for his role as a singer in Inside Llewyn Davis

Blue is the Warmest Colour is a three-hour love story, described as "epic yet intimate" by The Guardian, which has attracted attention for its performance from actress Adele Exarchopoulos as well as its explicit sex scenes.

Inside Llewyn Davis could provide the Coen brothers with their first Palme d'Or since they won in 1991 for Barton Fink, and its star Oscar Isaac, who plays the Dylanesque folk troubadour of the title, is being tipped for the best actor prize.

Asghar Farhadi has followed up his Oscar-nominated 2011 drama A Separation with The Past, a drama that features an acclaimed performance by French actress Berenice Bejo, previously best known for her role in the silent film The Artist.

Italian director Paolo Sorrentino's The Great Beauty, a sumptuous story about an ageing novelist, pays homage to Federico Fellini and was described as a "brilliantly executed, glitteringly hypnotic film" by The Guardian.

Image caption The Great Beauty stars Toni Servillo as writer Jep Gambardella

Like Father, Like Son is about two families who discover that their six-year-old boys were switched at birth, and was directed by Japan's Hirokazu Kore-eda.

Twenty films are in competition in total. Those seen to have an outside chance include Behind the Candelabra, in which Michael Douglas stars as the legendarily flamboyant entertainer Liberace.

This year's jury is being chaired by US director Steven Spielberg, who is joined by Life of Pi director Ang Lee, actress Nicole Kidman and Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz.

The other judges are We Need To Talk About Kevin film-maker Lynne Ramsay, French actor Daniel Auteuil, Romanian director Cristian Mungiu, Japanese director Naomi Kawase and Bollywood star Vidya Balan.

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