CANNES, France — The Cannes Film Festival, yet again, belongs to Lea Seydoux.
The French actress has already shared in a Palme d’Or at the festival, in 2013 for “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” which made her and Adele Exarchopoulos the first actors to ever win Cannes’ top prize, which they shared with director Abdellatif Kechiche.
Last year, she had four films at the festival, but missed all of them because she tested positive for COVID-19. This year Seydoux delivers two of the most impressive performances of her career, in the premieres of two films at Cannes. They are “One Fine Morning”, by Mia Hansen Love, and “Crimes of the Future” by David Cronenberg.
On a recent afternoon a few blocks from Cannes’ Palais des Festivals, Seydoux greeted a reporter cheerfully. What was her reaction? She replied, “Great!” “Should I not be great?”
The 36-year-old Seydoux has already made a major mark in Hollywood, most notably by taking the once stereotypical role of “Bond Girl” and stretching the character — a “Bond Woman” she redefined — across several films, adding a new dimension of depth to the franchise. James Bond even wanted Seydoux to retire.
But it’s especially clear at this year’s Cannes that Hollywood was only one stop of many in the fast-evolving, exceptionally varied career of Seydoux, who has managed to be one of Europe’s most famous faces while still exuding a mysterious melancholy on screen. It’s both ubiquitous and mysterious at the same moment.
“I carry a sadness,” Seydoux says, tracing it to a shy childhood. Cinema is for me something fun. This is a great consolation, because it transforms my sadness into something beautiful. It wasn’t like it worked every time. It’s not like it works every time.”
“If I didn’t have cinema, I would have been very sad,” she adds. It’s a way to be connected. It’s a way to be connected.”
In “One Fine Morning,” one of the standouts of Cannes, Seydoux plays a young widow raising a daughter in Paris while tending to her elderly father, whose memory is slipping. A passionate affair ensues after Seydoux reconnects with an old friend. “One Fine Morning,” a semi-autobiographical movie Hansen-Love wrote shortly before her own father died of COVID-19, throbs with the irreconcilable coexistence of grief and love, death and rebirth, and life’s vexing impermanence. Hansen-Love was the filmmaker of “Bergman Island”. She wrote it with Seydoux’s in mind.
“She was maybe my favorite actress for this generation,” explains Hansen-Love. Hansen-Love says, “She is enigmatic in the way that few actresses can be. She doesn’t try to be a showman. She’s not affected.”
“There’s a sadness and melancholy about her that contrasts with her status as a superstar that moves me,” adds the writer-director. She’s an extremely glamorous actress in cinema. She is very seductive. It’s a pleasure to see her in movies that are viewed from a male fantasy perspective. But there’s an innocence and simplicity about her that gives me the same feeling when I film unknown actors.”
Sony Pictures Classics acquired the film Monday for U.S. theatrical distribution, citing it as Seydoux’s “finest performance to date.”
Leading up to this moment, Seydoux has experienced some of the worst sides of the movie business. In 2017 she said Harvey Weinstein once forcibly tried to kiss her in a hotel room in a meeting that was ostensibly about a potential role. The filming technique of the lesbian romance “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” in which Kechiche would shoot up to 100 takes of a single shot, has also been questioned.
But Seydoux, who recently signed up to adapt the erotic novel “Emmanuelle” with “Happening” filmmaker Audrey Diwan, says she’s never hesitated to express her sexuality on screen. One Fine Morning, with Hansen-Love’s viewpoint, was one of the most sensual Cannes films.
“I felt that this movie was about passion,” says Seydoux. I don’t have any problems with my nudity. This is something that I enjoy watching as both a observer and as a participant. It’s gorgeous. I love sex scenes in films.”
In Cronenberg’s “Crimes of the Future,” which opens June 3 in theaters, Seydoux stars alongside Viggo Mortensen in a film yet more focused on the body. She plays the role of a surgeon performing operations on tumors and other organs in a futurity where plastics and humans are closer.
“To be honest, I didn’t understand everything about the film,” Seydoux says, smiling. “For me, it’s like a metaphor about what it is to be an artist.”
“Crimes of the Future” may present an usual science-fiction world but Seydoux is remarkably grounded in it. Seydoux is open to exploring new cinematic worlds and says that it makes him feel more free. I don’t want to be stuck in one place.”
“I’m not crazy about films that are ‘entertaining,'” says Seydoux. Seydoux: “I don’t believe that the cinema is a place I visit to entertain myself. It’s big in America. It’s something I enjoy asking myself more questions. I do not like being told the answers. It’s not my goal to stop thinking. I think certain films are just to feed you with images.”
“I love to feel that I’ve touched something truthful,” Seydoux adds. In today’s world, all of Instagram, and other social media, are lies. Cinema can help us reach a certain truth, I believe. There are so many truths. It’s a pleasure to touch. I feel alive.”
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP
For more Cannes Film Festival coverage, visit: https://apnews.com/hub/cannes-film-festival