It has attracted attention for its explicit sex scenes as well as the acclaimed performances of actresses Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux. Hollywood veteran Bruce Dern won best actor for his performance in Nebraska. And French star Berenice Bejo, known for silent film The Artist, won best actress for her role in The Past. The winners were picked from the 20 films in competition and were named at the festival’s closing ceremony on Sunday.
Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, it won rave reviews in Cannes, being described as “epic yet intimate” by The Guardian. But it also shocked some critics. Variety magazine said it contained “the most explosively graphic lesbian sex scenes in recent memory”. The Hollywood Reporter said the “sprawling drama” would “raise eyebrows” as it crossed the barrier “between performance and the real deal”.
Some had questioned whether the sex scenes may make it too explicit for the top prize. But director Steven Spielberg, who chaired the jury, told reporters: “I think it will get a lot of play… I think this film carries a very strong message, a very positive message.” In an unusual move, Spielberg awarded the prize to the two lead actresses as well as the director.
Accepting the prize, Abdellatif Kechiche said: “I should like to dedicate this film to the wonderful youth of France whom I met during the long period while making this film. “Those young people taught me a lot about the spirit of freedom and living together.” Blue is the Warmest Colour prevented US film-makers the Coen brothers from repeating their Palme d’Or success of 1991, when they won for Barton Fink. Their latest film Inside Llewyn Davis, about the 1960s New York folk scene, won this year’s Grand Prix, effectively the runners-up prize.
The best actor award marks a return to the critical bosom for Bruce Dern, who is best known for roles in 1970s films including Coming Home, The Cowboys and The Great Gatsby. Now 76, he has won for playing an ageing, alcoholic father on a road trip to collect a lottery prize. The film, titled Nebraska, was directed by Sideways and The Descendants film-maker Alexander Payne.