Cristian Mungiu, Beyond the Hills, 2012, color film in 35 mm, 150 minutes. Production still. Voichița and Alina (Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur).


MANAGING TO AVOID most of the operatic thunderstorm that hit Cannes for several hours this afternoon, I emerged from my apartment to walk in the rain for the last time to the Palais des Festivals—the bunkerlike compound that comprises the Grand Théâtre Lumière and the Salle Debussy—around 6:30 PM to watch a live transmission of the awards ceremony. Guests of the closing festivities had the pleasure of walking the red carpet to the Weather Girls’ “It’s Raining Men.” (Who are these DJs? “Sunday Bloody Sunday” played soon after.)

Fittingly, the dampest Cannes in decades ended with a particularly dull closing ceremony (no outrageous behavior, no big upsets). Hosted by Bérénice Bejo, who starred in last year’s festival hit The Artist, the seven palmarès went to six different films. Cristian Mungiu’s Beyond the Hills, a bleak, powerful Romanian Orthodox monastery–set tale about a friendship between two young women who grew up in the same orphanage, won Best Screenplay. In one of the night’s only surprises, the two leads of Mungiu’s project—Cosmina Stratan, who plays novitiate Voichita, and Cristina Flutur, as Alina, who rages at (and feels betrayed by) Voichita’s love of God—shared the Best Actress prize. Beyond the Hills marks the film debut for both women; in her remarks, Flutur very graciously thanked “everyone who has had an opinion about [the movie].”

That line got a laugh from the journalists assembled in the Debussy, all of whom had been doing nothing but judging and hyperbolizing for the past week and a half. As for my own extolling, I would have loved to see an award extended to Holy Motors, but had to settle for that film’s angelic presence, Kylie Minogue, onstage merely as a copresenter of the Best Short Film award—a task she shared with Belgian director Jean-Pierre Dardenne, in the evening’s only delightful incongruity. But I was certainly happy that the Palme d’Or was given to Michael Haneke’s Amour, my second-favorite title in the festival. Haneke, now a two-time Palme d’Or winner, led his actress Emmanuelle Riva up to the stage; they were joined from the wings by Jean-Louis Trintignant. After all three spoke movingly, Haneke was instructed by Adrien Brody, who presented the top prize to the director with Audrey Tautou, where he needed to stand to get his picture taken. It was the evening’s first—and the festival’s last—objectionable incongruity.

Melissa Anderson