Megalopolis Gets 7-Minute Ovation at Cannes

Critics are split on long-awaited Coppola epic
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2024 10:44 AM CDT

Francis Ford Coppola's epic Megalopolis, more than 40 years in the making, made its debut at the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday and while reactions were mixed, there was a lot of love for the director. Variety reports that the 85-year-old received a four-minute standing ovation when he entered the room, followed by a seven-minute standing ovation as the credits rolled.

  • Coppola, whose wife of 61 years died last month, introduced family members in the audience and delivered an emotional speech dedicating the film to "the human family"—and hope. "The most important word we have is the most beautiful word in any language: 'esperanza.' Hope. And that's what I dedicate this to," he said.

  • The movie, which Coppola self-financed with $120 million from the sale of part of his wine business, "defies easy categorization," Jake Coyle writes at the AP. It's "a fable set in a futuristic New York about an architect (Adam Driver) who has a grand vision of a more harmonious metropolis, and whose considerable talents include the ability to start and stop time," he writes. "Though Megalopolis is set in a near-future, it's fashioned as a Roman epic."
  • Megalopolis has divided critics—it currently has a 50% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
  • One of the more scathing reviews came from Peter Bradshaw at the Guardian, who called it "a passion project without passion: a bloated, boring and bafflingly shallow film, full of high-school-valedictorian verities about humanity's future."
  • Other reviewers praised Coppola's ambition, including David Fear at Rolling Stone. "Say what you will about this grand gesture at filtering Edward Gibbon's history lessons through a lens darkly, it is exactly the movie that Coppola set out to make—uncompromising, uniquely intellectual, unabashedly romantic (upper-case and lower-case R), broadly satirical yet remarkably sincere about wanting not just brave new worlds but better ones," he wrote. Fear describes Megalopolis as the kind of movie Cannes was "made to premiere, showcase and give the red carpet treatment to, in that it's the work of a genuine artist who is shooting for the moon in the most extravagant way possible."
  • Justin Chang at the New Yorker describes the movie as "an astounding repository of the past," noting that while there is plenty of modern CGI, "some of Coppola's devices—three-way split screen, fadeout iris shots, spinning newspaper headlines, and the like—belong to an earlier era." The movie may find Coppola "near the end of a long, embattled career, but the mere fact that it exists, in its breathtaking and sometimes exasperating singularity, feels like an expression of hope," Chang writes.
(More Francis Ford Coppola stories.)

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