The sense of place and uniformly superb performances make it worth seeing, and maybe ultimately singing along with.
The festival will soon be over, and the news of this year's Palme d'Or will be celebrated around the world. In the meantime, it's time for fun, with the awarding of the prestigious Palme de Whiskers, my own personal prize for the Cannes festival's Best Feline Performance. Let's go now to the imaginary Palais des Kittycats, the only certified dog-free zone along the Croisette.
The nominees are:
*The white cat with orange blotches and a bobbed tail, in a walk-on performance in Hirzaku Kore-da's "Like Father, Like Son." He doesn't have a name in the film, so I'll call him Scooter.
*The adorable fluffy white kitten that I'll call Oma, who, as the title character's pet, gets a whirling action scene with a piece of string in the Palestinian film "Omar" by Hany Abu-Assad.
*The hunky ginger tabby Ulysses, who steals the show in "Inside Llewyn Davis" by the Coen brothers.
The feline elite of the world has been assembled here for the ceremony. Sleek coats are gleaming, and ostentatious rhinestone collars sparkle on some of the preening lady cats, who head for the choicest of the velvet cushions. Tails are quivering with suspense.
Tabitha, last year's young winner from "Moonrise Kingdom," will be the presenter. She may have been a kitten in a wicker fishing creel last year, but she's all grown up now, and quite the flirty ingenue. The 2011 winner Kimbo is here too, from Korea. By the look of his tattered ears, this tomcat has been in a fight or two since he last took the stage at the Palais des Kittycats.
And the winner is... Ulysses. What a performance! From the moment he bravely flaunted his fluffy butt while trotting down the hallway of a Greenwich Village apartment, this orange-striped thespian proved to be a scene-stealer, putting Oscar Isaac, the nominal star of "Inside Llewyn Davis," in the shadows. The subway scene was incomparable, the window-escape a masterpiece of subtlety, and the purring scene a stroke of genius.
Ulysses proudly pads up to the stage to receive the whiskery golden palm sheaf and a congratulatory lick on the ear from Tabitha. He thanks the innovative Coen brothers for creating the role and thereby recognizing the vast, under-recognized pool of talent in the feline species. Finally, he thanks his five orange-striped body doubles who gave their all anonymously to enhance his performance.
The satisfied purrs of the audience are heard all over Cannes, before they proceed to the banquet hall for a buffet of freshly caught mouse.