CANNES, France (AP) — Relationship drama "My King" pairs Emmanuelle Bercot and Vincent Cassel, two of the busiest people in Cannes.
Bercot stars in the French film as one half of a couple enduring a roller-coaster 10-year romance, and also directed the festival's opener, juvenile-delinquent drama "Standing Tall."
Cassel plays her charming, possessive partner — the king of the partly ironic title. He's also in two other royalty-themed Cannes entries, appearing as a lustful fairy-tale king in Matteo Garrone's "Tale of Tales" and lending his voice to animated "The Little Prince."
Directed by French actress-filmmaker Maiwenn, "My King" is a female take on relationships, in a year when the place of women in the film industry is being hotly debated at Cannes.
"My King" is one of only two female-directed films among 19 competing for the Palme d'Or, and "Standing Tall" — which is not in competition — is the first film by a woman to open the festival since the 1980s.
"People keep referring to women here, women there," Maiwenn said, a touch wearily, at a press conference for "My King" Sunday. "Maybe in a couple of years' time they will start saying there aren't enough Moroccans ... We aren't chosen because of our gender or this or that. We're chosen because of our film."
"My King" is unmistakably the work of a female director, offering an intense and sometimes humorous take on male-female relationships.
Both characters torment one another, but the story unfolds from the point of view of Bercot's Tony, as she falls in and out of love with Cassel's duplicitous Georgio.
"In the script I felt the character was really despicable and I made tremendous efforts ... to save him," said 48-year-old Cassel, who played the mercurial choreographer in Darren Aronofsky's ballet drama "Black Swan."
"I really fought for the status of men. People say it's difficult being a woman, and I've no doubt about that, but it's also difficult being a man — especially in a love story."
— By Jill Lawless, http://Twitter.com/JillLawless