On Wednesday, the seventy fifth Cannes Movie Pageant rolled out the purple carpet for Tom Cruise whereas French fighter jets roared overhead streaming smoke trails of purple, white and blue. As soon as once more, the pageant and Hollywood had joined forces to declare their shared values — liberté, égalité, fraternité, publicité! — whereas delivering a militaristic spectacle that immediately turned worldwide information. The message was deafening and strategically on level: After a number of tough few years, Cruise was again in power and so too was Cannes.

Cruise was on the pageant for a particular screening of “Prime Gun: Maverick,” the sequel to his 1986 blockbuster breakthrough. Whereas his look on the world’s most prestigious movie pageant could seem unusual, it was in step with this occasion, the place cinephilia runs deep. And whereas that love is honest, Cannes has all the time banked on stars to generate public relations and preserve capital flowing. Billy Wilder’s “The Misplaced Weekend” was in competitors on the first pageant in 1946 (it won), a number of months after France and the USA signed an settlement opening France to American merchandise, together with movies.

“Present me the cash!” as Cruise stated in “Jerry Maguire,” one of many films featured in a video tribute to the star the evening of his premiere. In 13-plus minutes, this spotlight reel bounced round Cruise’s decades-long profession. It additionally quickly entered semiotically complicated territory when it cranked the triumphal opening of Strauss’s “Additionally Sprach Zarathustra,” which memorably plays in “2001: A Space Odyssey” when the ape-man realizes {that a} bone can turn into a weapon. Was Cruise the brand new man or the star baby? I puzzled. Or was this a nod at Kubrick, who directed Cruise in “Eyes Broad Shut”?

Regardless of the case, Cruise took over Cannes on Wednesday, fielding questions at one occasion and lingering on the purple carpet at his premiere, the place he smiled at followers and signed autographs. By the point he entered the Grand Théâtre Lumière, the two,300-seat theater within the pageant’s headquarters, the screening was operating late, and the viewers — which watches the red-carpet entrances dwell on the big display — was pumped. After the pageant’s director, Thierry Frémaux, summoned the star onstage, Cruise thanked everybody and famous that he might see everybody’s faces (“no masks”), prompting loud laughter.

I didn’t take part, not that anybody would know the distinction provided that I used to be sporting an N95 masks. That is the primary Cannes that I’ve attended since 2019; it was canceled in 2020 and resumed in individual the next yr with assorted Covid-19 protocols. Recorded bulletins earlier than the screenings proceed to encourage festivalgoers to masks up, however face coverings and common detrimental assessments are now not required. And whereas attendance is outwardly up this yr, each the pageant and the encircling metropolis streets really feel distinctly much less populated than they’ve been in prepandemic occasions.

On a public well being degree, the absence of Covid protocols is questionable, even when it’s in step with the easing of restrictions all through France. If Cannes is keen to maneuver on from the pandemic, it’s partly as a result of it relies upon (financially and in any other case) on continuity, together with in its position as a defender of cinema. Streaming, the pandemic, a warfare in Europe — the present will go on, and it will likely be projected. “We love films on the large display,” Cruise stated proper earlier than Frémaux offered him with an honorary Palme d’Or. A day earlier, Forest Whitaker — he and Cruise have been in “The Coloration of Cash” — acquired one, too.

Cruise apart, the primary few days of the pageant (it ends Could 28) have been comparatively quiet, regardless of the moans of attendees struggling to navigate the net ticketing system. Though ticketing has improved, at the very least for journalists, I’ve heard that a number of programmers took to watching hyperlinks of their leases right here. Which will sound humorous, nevertheless it’s a drag as a result of being with different individuals, masked or not, is essential to Cannes, the place films should not simply screened and argued over, but additionally purchased and bought. And, because the pandemic has underscored, being with different individuals might be very nice.

The pageant’s comparatively low-key vibe can be partly a operate of the flicks which have so far screened. Different attendees have been extra favorably disposed than I’m to Michel Hazanavicius’s zombie comedy “Ultimate Minimize,” which opened the pageant on Tuesday and confirms that some issues, together with humor, can’t be translated. The film was simply overshadowed on its large evening by President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, who addressed the viewers by satellite tv for pc. Zelensky quoted from “The Great Dictator,” the 1940 movie during which Chaplin satirized Hitler. The following yr, it was denounced as warmongering propaganda in the USA Senate.

In Cannes or in Hollywood, politics are all the time a part of the film combine, whether or not it’s a feature-length ode to the army industrial complicated like “Prime Gun: Maverick” or a critique of Russian mythology like “Tchaikovsky’s Spouse.” Directed by Kirill Serebrennikov, “Spouse” tells the story of the wedding between the composer, Pyotr (Odin Biron), and the youthful Antonina Miliukova (an excellent Alyona Mikhailova), the title character. Profoundly ill-suited for one another, the 2 quickly spiral right into a hellish coexistence earlier than going their mutually sad methods. He turns into a nationwide monument; she descends into poverty and psychological sickness.

Serebrennikov (“Leto”), who has been the topic of official Russian censure, takes an unsparing method to this materials. Though the film begins with smiles and fairly robes, the temper and visible fashion change as soon as Pyotr and Antonina wed. What she doesn’t perceive — what she will’t grasp, partly as a result of the concept is meaningless to her — is that Pyotr isn’t serious about ladies. He lives in a world of males, one which nurtures him artistically, intellectually and, although the film is discreet, sexually. A way of claustrophobia descends and the palette dulls amid the buzzing of flies.

“Tchaikovsky’s Spouse” is simpler to admire than it’s to like. The film’s relentless grimness could also be brutally true, nevertheless it additionally doesn’t depart the viewer a lot respiration room. By the point Antonina is languishing in a hovel along with her tubercular lover, who masturbates whereas he coughs blood throughout his pillow, you could be wistfully wishing for a little bit of “The Nutcracker” to assist ease the ache. However Serebrennikov has made a posh film to wrestle with, one which explores intolerance, repression and — on a elementary degree — the brutal worth some are pressured to pay when a tradition elevates its nice males.

Directed by Felix Van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch, “The Eight Mountains” facilities on a friendship between two boys — one from town, the opposite from the nation — that begins of their bucolic childhood. As they develop up, Pietro (Luca Marinelli) and Bruno (Alessandro Borghi) go their separate methods, reunite, fail, succeed and stumble once more. With pastoral magnificence, a deep sense of longing, allusions to the 2008 financial disaster and some too many montage sequences, the film explores questions of id in a world during which every thing has been lowered to its financial worth.

In “Scarlet,” the director Pietro Marcello bridges time by the story of a World Battle I veteran and his daughter. The useless nonetheless litter the fields when Raphaël (Raphaël Thiéry, an astonishment) hobbles again residence, returning to a small village with few pleasant faces. His spouse is useless and his child woman, Juliette, is being cared for by a neighborhood lady, Adeline (the marvelous Noémie Lvovsky), who lives in a small enclave exterior the village. There, Raphaël — a proficient craftsman who works with wooden — nestles right into a tiny homey group and painfully tries to renew one thing like regular life, regardless of his harrowing losses.

“Scarlet” is an interesting, slippery film full of lyrical magnificence, acts of barbarism, moments of magic and surprising hope. The primary half focuses on Raphaël, an enormous, lumbering man with a jutting forehead and palms the dimensions of hams. As Juliette grows (and is finally performed by Juliette Jouan), the narrative middle of gravity shifts from father (a product of the nineteenth century) to daughter (a lady of the twentieth). As he did in “Martin Eden,” Marcello takes an expansive, visually adventurous method to a narrative about individuals and the historic forces that outline, imprison and generally liberate them. I’m nonetheless grappling with the film, and am desperate to see it once more.