UPDATED with latest: The Venice Film Festival began August 30 with opening-night movie Comandante, an Italian World War II drama, kicking off a lineup for the venerable fest’s 80th edition that includes world premieres of Michael Mann’s Ferrari, Bradley Cooper’s Maestro, Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla, Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things, David Fincher’s The Killer, Ava DuVernay’s Origins, and new films from lightning-rod directors Roman Polanski, Woody Allen and Luc Besson.
Deadline is on the ground to watch all the key films. Below is a compilation of our reviews from the fest, which last year awarded Laura Poitras’ documentary All The Beauty and the Bloodshed its Golden Lion for best film.
Click on the film titles below to read the reviews in full, and keep checking back as we add more movies throughout the fest, which runs through September 9.
Director: Stefano Sollima
Cast: Pierfrancesco Favino, Toni Servillo, Valerio Mastandrea, Adriano Giannini, Gianmarco Franchini, Francesco Di Leva, Lorenzo Adorni, Silvia Salvatori
Deadline’s takeaway: Surprisingly, Sollima’s film went into production without a full script, but the finished film is confident, sleek and intricately organized, often holding back vital information often until the last possible moment.
Director: Bertrand Bonello
Cast: Léa Seydoux, George MacKay
Deadline’s takeaway: David Lynch did most of this too, in the brilliant Inland Empire, but Bonello puts his own spin on the material with a much more classic arthouse style. It’s sometimes too oblique to be totally satisfying, but Seydoux is a revelation.
Section: Out of Competition
Director: William Friedkin
Cast: Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Clarke, Jake Lacy, Monica Raymund, Lance Reddick, Lewis Pullman, Elizabeth Anweis, Tom Riley, Francois Battiste, Gabe Kessler, Jay Duplass, Gina Garcia-Sharp, Stephanie Erb, Dale Dye, Denzel Johnson
Deadline’s takeaway: A solid, no-frills, new film that the late director had said he always wanted to make but one that won’t stand on the same level of some of its director’s most vividly great achievements like his Oscar winning The French Connection, horror classic The Exorcist, or underrated (at the time at least) and ambitious Sorcerer.
Section: Competition (Opening Night)
Director: Edoardo De Angelis
Cast: Pierfrancesco Favino, Massimiliano Rossi, Johan Heldenbergh, Silvia D’Amico, Arturo Muselli, Giuseppe Brunetti, Gianluca Di Gennaro, Johannes Wirix, Pietro Angelini, Mario Russo, Cecilia Bertozzi, Paolo Bonacelli
Deadline’s takeaway: Comandante is just fitfully entertaining, an adventure yarn about a local hero that will struggle to find audiences internationally.
Director: Pablo Larraín
Cast: Jaime Vadell, Gloria Münchmeyer, Alfredo Castro, Paula Luchsinger
Deadline’s takeaway: The Count overflows with smart ideas and startling images that never seem gratuitous. It’s as if someone commanded Larraín and Calderón to amaze and astonish, and they willingly obliged.
Director: Luc Besson
Cast: Caleb Landry Jones, Jojo T. Gibbs, Christopher Denham, Clemens Schick, Grace Palma
Deadline’s takeaway: There is nothing remotely under-the-radar about Dogman, which fuses movies as diverse as Flawless and Willard with Besson’s trademark, anything-goes approach to genre while giving Landry Jones the perfect showcase.
Director: Michael Mann
Cast: Adam Driver, Penélope Cruz, Shailene Woodley, Sarah Gadon, Gabriel Leone, Jack O’Connell, Patrick Dempsey
Deadline’s takeaway: A strangely unemotional lead performance from Adam Driver and the glacial pace of its narrative means that a film expected to take an early awards-season lead will struggle to hold that pole position.
Director: Saverio Costanzo
Cast: Lily James, Rebecca Antonaci, Joe Keery, Rachel Sennott, Alba Rohrwacher, Willem Dafoe
Deadline’s takeaway: Costanzo leans heavily into nostalgia for times past, setting his story in the ‘50s when there were still legions of centurions marching around Cinecitta and live animals awaiting their close-ups. A lion features here, roaring at passers-by. It may well be the film’s most sympathetic character.
Section: Venice Classics
Director: Matthew Wells
Deadline’s takeaway: Nuanced portrait of three-time Oscar winner who captured a basic Americanness offers a fresh perspective on one of the motion picture industry’s seminal figures while also exploring his unsavory side.
Director: David Fincher
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Tilda Swinton, Charles Parnell, Arliss Howard, Kerry O’Malley, Sophie Charlotte, Sala Baker, Emiliano Pernía, Gabriel Polanco
Deadline’s takeaway: The Killer provides a lurid kind of escapism we haven’t really seen since the ’60s, a suave, cold-blooded but very, very funny kind of savoir-faire that finds the frustrated assassin reflecting on his predicament and wondering, “When was my last nice, quiet drowning?”
Director: Bradley Cooper
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Bradley Cooper, Matt Bomer, Maya Hawke, Sarah Silverman, Josh Hamilton, Scott Ellis, Gideon Glick, Sam Nivola, Alexa Swinton, Miriam Shor
Deadline’s takeaway: This is a complex story of a man who can’t quite define the intersection of his art and personal life but seems to thrive on the ambiguity — bigger-than-life and towering personality not at all sugar-coated in this compelling take.
Section: Out of Competition
Director: Roman Polanski
Cast: Oliver Masucci, Fanny Ardant, John Cleese, Bronwyn James, Joaquim De Almeida, Luca Barbareschi, Milan Peschel, Fortunato Cerlino, Mickey Rourke
Deadline’s takeaway: It beggars belief, but, at the age of 90, Polanski may have actually cancelled himself with a film that will probably never see the light of day in any English-speaking countries.
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Cast: Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe, Ramy Youssef, Christopher Abbott, Suzy Bemba, Jerrod Carmichael, Kathryn Hunter, Vicki Pepperdine, Margaret Qualley, Hanna Schygulla
Deadline’s takeway: Poor Things is stuffed with extravagant costumes and sets that make Disneyland look restrained, all cut from the same spangled cloth as the royal romp The Favourite, Lanthimos’ last film. Strip away the decoration, however, and it is actually a return to those first concerns of Dogtooth: essentially, what it is to be a human animal.
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Amanda Collin, Simon Bennebjerg, Kristine Kujath Thorp, Gustav Lindh
Deadline’s takeaway: They don’t make them like this any more, except when they do. It’s a historical epic out of Denmark that has all the virtues of a midday movie remembered from childhood. Plus, it has one element those midday movies didn’t: Mads Mikkelsen.
Section: Venice Classics
Director: Alex Braverman
Deadline’s takeaway: The documentary is an attempt to locate the man behind the myth, and though there’s plenty of firsthand testimony and a treasure trove of archive material, it soon becomes achingly clear that the real Andy Kaufman likely never will be unmasked.
Director: Timm Kröger
Cast: Jan Bülow, Olivia Ross, Hanns Zischler, Gottfried Breitfuss, David Bennent, Philippe Graber
Deadline’s takeaway: As a film about the fears that have underscored the 20th century, it is appropriate that its spirit seems drawn from directly from German Expressionism, with all its suggestions of the horrors soon to come.