Grand Tour (2024) Best Director – Miguel Gomes | Cannes 2024

May 23rd, 2024
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Miguel Gomes | Cast: Crista Alfaiate, Gonçalo Waddington, Cláudio da Silva, Lang Khê Tran | Fantasy drama 129′

Sashaying between past and future, documentary and drama this tender tension-tinged travelogue captures the glory days of Colonial times and the delicate exotic mystique of the Orient, at a time when it was still full of grace. 

Grand Tour is unique, a plot-free tale of doomed love and betrayal blends seamlessly with a beguiling black and white kaleidoscope of swirling images reminiscing on the past. Portuguese auteur Miguel Gomes, in his first time Palme d’Or entry, gives life to his own brand of cinema: dreamlike, quirky and romantically absurd, in similar vein to his 2012 feature Tabu . 

Surrender yourself to this timeless reverie set in Southeast Asia around 1918, where Goncalo Waddington’s English civil servant Edward has caddishly fled Rangoon on his wedding day. His dogged fiancée of seven years Molly (Crista Alfaiate) pursues him peripatetically despite his feet of clay.

Laughing childishly whenever his name comes up in conversation Molly is clearly in de-Nile on the Yangtze river as they glide effortlessly through ‘Burma’, Singapore, Tibet, Bangkok, Vietnam, Shanghai and Chengdu in a parallel continental odyssey all crafted in grainy black and white. 

Niche in the extreme this is a diaphanous patchwork of a film may not appeal to everyone as it floats in filigree on the silver screen. It tells of an era of heady romance and adventure for Colonial types when the world was still an enticing oyster to discover. Now and then, the recent past surfaces through a crevice in the old world with modern music – a crooner sings ‘My Way’ in a crowded bar in Manila as modern motorbikes circle incessantly in the centre of ‘Saigon’.

At one point Molly is courted by a wealthy landowner (Cláudio da Silva) who offers her sanctuary when she falls ill. Here in this idyll, deep in the tropical jungle, she bonds with his servant Ngoc (Lang Khê Tran) and they decide to embark on an ill-advised journey North. Discover Grand Tour and immerse yourself in the mind-bending potential of the Orient. A fabulous film quite unlike any other. Quintessential Gomes. @MeredithTaylor


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