Art world satire The Square, directed by Ruben Ostlund, has won top prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
The Swedish title was one of 19 films competing for the prestigious Palme d’Or, in the 70th year of the festival on the French Riviera.
Critics had named French Aids drama 120 BPM, bleak Russian epic Loveless and heist thriller Good Time as the favourites to lift the trophy.
The jury was chaired by Spanish director Pedro Almodovar.
The Square stars Claes Bang with British actor Dominic West and Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss in supporting roles. While it received good reviews, it was not tipped to win the main prize.
It focuses on Bang’s character Christian as the gallery he runs prepares for a new exhibition in the gallery’s courtyard in which members of the public can stand and ask for help. Meanwhile, his private life starts to unravel after he is mugged and seeks the return of his belongings in an unorthodox way.
The Square received four stars from the Daily Telegraph’s Robbie Collin, who said that while it is a “slow burn”, it has a “cumulative force that can’t be resisted”, while Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian gave it the same score, calling it “thrillingly weird”.
Cannes: The winners
Palme d’Or: The Square
Grand Prix: BPM (Beats per Minute)
70th anniversary award: Nicole Kidman
Best director: Sofia Coppola, The Beguiled
Best actress: Diane Kruger, In the Fade
Best actor: Joaquin Phoenix, You Were Never Really Here
Best screenplay: Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou for The Killing of a Sacred Deer, and Lynne Ramsay for You Were Never Really Here
British filmmaker Lynne Ramsay was the joint winner of best screenplay for You Were Never Really Here, for which Joaquin Phoenix was named best actor. It tells the story of a private contractor sent to rescue a young girl from a paedophile ring.
The best director award went to Sofia Coppola for The Beguiled, a drama about an injured soldier taken in by a girls’ boarding school during the American Civil War – the first time the prize has gone to a woman.
It stars Nicole Kidman as the headmistress and the Australian actress was given a 70th anniversary award to mark the fact she had three films and one TV series shown at this year’s festival.
Jury members included Men in Black star Will Smith, The Help actress Jessica Chastain, South Korean director Park Chan-wook, Chinese star Fan Bingbing, Italian director Paolo Sorrentino and German director Maren Ade.
Almodovar said “no blood” was shed over the decision, adding: “We all respected each other very much. That doesn’t mean we were thinking the exact same thing about all of the films.”
He said the festival was “the birth of a lot of wonderful movies” and that he had been “completely mesmerised” by some of the films in competition.
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