(Fixes typo in lead)
* Wild applause for "Wild Tales" by Argentina's Szifron
* Yves Saint Laurent biopic shows fragile genius in torment
By Alexandria Sage
CANNES, France, May 17 An Argentine revenge
fantasy impressed critics at the Cannes film festival on
Saturday, winning more hearts than a biopic about the private
life of French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.
On the fourth day of the 12-day festival, Argentine director
Damian Szifron's "Relatos Salvajes" (Wild Tales) drew excited
hoots and applause at an advance press screening before its
The movie is a string of six thematically linked stories
each with a central character being cheated or humiliated, who
then extracts revenge, often of an extreme form.
"For pure viewing pleasure, the one wild card in the Cannes
competition this year is unlikely to be beaten," wrote Variety,
saying the film's vengeance "explodes in spectacular bursts
after a put-upon soul is screwed over too many times".
With Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovar - a director known for
offbeat humour - as a producer, the darkly comic film has a
serious undercurrent that speaks of corruption, the class system
and the little guy being squeezed.
Infidelity, road rage, even cars being towed provoke the ire
of Szifron's characters, who explode like pressure cookers and
act out the dark, violent and delicious revenge fantasies most
Like the conclusion of "Hamlet", bodies are everywhere at
the end of the last segment, the culmination of a Jewish wedding
gone bad. After discovering her husband's infidelity, Romina's
(Erica Rivas) revenge ends in blood, a ripped dress, smashed
wedding cake on the floor, and hurrahs from the audience.
FASHION AND FILM
"Saint Laurent" is the second film about the designer this
year and one of at least six biopics presented at Cannes.
Others include Mike Leigh's "Mr Turner" about British
painter JMW Turner, Ken Loach's "Jimmy's Hall" about an Irish
communist leader and "Grace of Monaco," an out-of-competition
film about Grace Kelly.
"The 50-pluses ... love these types of movies, movies that
are looking back to the characters that they know, the history
that they remember from their childhood," Hollywood Reporter's
Scott Roxborough told Reuters.
Bertrand Bonello's "Saint Laurent" comes a few months after
Jalil Lespert's "Yves Saint Laurent" played in cinemas,
underscoring interest in the man who invented the women's tuxedo
and brought ready-to-wear to the masses.
Although there is plenty of sketching and stitching in
Bonello's film, its focus is not fashion, but the emotional
fragility of Saint Laurent, who died in 2008.
His destructive behaviour - drugs, drinking and cruising for
men in Paris parks - takes a toll on his body and mind even as
his artistic genius remained intact.
The key characters of Saint Laurent's life are all here: his
romantic and business partner Pierre Berge, his muses Betty
Catroux and Loulou de la Falaise and his lover who later died of
AIDS, the protege of Karl Lagerfeld, Jacques de Bascher.
Bonello never received for his film the support of Berge,
who has said he holds the "moral" right to Saint Laurent's work.
"In terms of authorisation, what I and my producers wanted
was just one thing - the freedom to do what we wanted," Bonello
Early reviews were tepid, with the Hollywood Reporter saying
the film lacked "a throughline or focus, coasting from party
scenes full of drugs and alcohol to work-related drama but
rarely managing to get inside the head of the self-destructive
character the designer had become by the 1970s."
The winner of the Palme d'Or prize for best picture will be
named on May 24.
(Additional reporting by Michael Roddy; Editing by Robin