Cannes 2009: The Tomato Report ? Inglourious Splits Critics

But most agree it?s not Tarantino?s finest hour.

by Chris Tilly | Wednesday, May. 20 2009

Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds got its long-awaited first screening this morning at the Cannes Film festival, with critics giving it a round of applause at its conclusion, but opinions gathered so far have been mixed.

The film follows a titular group of Allied soliders renowned for their skill, their ability to move within enemy lines and their astonishing brutality. They're the stuff of nightmares amongst the ranks of their victims and they like nothing more than scalping Nazis and bringing justice to occupied France. Loosely based on Enzo Castellari's 1978 exploitation classic, The Inglorious Bastards, it's a deliciously revisionist twist on World War II cinema.

Empire's Chris Hewitt is certainly a Tarantino fan, calling it "rather brilliant" and stating that it's "every bit as idiosyncratic as the spelling of its title. It's a wonderfully-acted movie that subverts expectation at every turn. And it may represent the most confident, audacious writing and directing of QT's career."

Cannes 2009
Tarantino on the set of Basterds

The BBC's Emma Jones was also a fan of the film, calling it, "a glorious, silly, blood-splattered return." She did however, have some misgivings about the film's lengthy runtime, saying "At nearly three hours, its director could certainly have trimmed more of its flab."

Elsewhere, the critical reaction has been slightly less positive, with The Hollywood Reporter, Screen International and the Daily Telegraph all having problems with the lack of action and over-reliance on dialogue. They also echoed the BBC's problem with the film's length.

"There's not enough roaring or headhunting," writes The Telegraph's Sukhdev Sandhu. "Tarantino, one of the most exceptional choreographers of blood-ballet working today, should have wielded a cleaver to whole sections of this 154-minute non-epic. There is far too much yakking, some of it thickly accented and hard to follow, most of it without the rhythmic zing of his best work."

Screen International's Mike Goodridge repeats this sentiment. "The Cannes world premiere ran to a shorter-than-expected 154 minutes but it still offers considerable challenges to the attention span of mainstream audiences. Even though there is some action and a fair smattering of Tarantino's customary blood-spilling, the film-maker devotes much of the running time to dialogue."

Cannes 2009
Brad Pitt stars as Lt. Aldo Raine.

And The Hollywood Reporter simply states, "History will not repeat itself for Quentin Tarantino. While his Pulp Fiction arrived late at the Festival de Cannes and swept away the Palme d'Or in 1994, Inglourious Basterds merely continues the string of disappointments in this year's Competition."

But harshest criticism comes from Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian, who claims, "There are some nice-ish performances but everything is just so boring. He should perhaps go back to making cheerfully inventive outrageous films like Kill Bill. Because Kill Adolf hasn't worked out."

So all-in-all it seems that Tarantino's long-gestating drama is far from a return to form for the auteur. Whatever the case, Inglourious Basterds gets the red carpet treatment in Cannes this evening, while it will hit screens worldwide on August 21. Check out more from the Cannes Film Festival via our hub, and join us soon as, tomorrow, Michael Haneke returns to Cannes with The White Ribbon.