HomeEntertainmentFrancis Ford Coppola's $120 million film debuts at Cannes. It's hard...

Francis Ford Coppola’s $120 million film debuts at Cannes. It’s hard to look away from the epic.

Megalopolisthe latest magnum opus from famed director Francis Ford Coppola, debuted at the Cannes Film Festival on May 16, and the response has been chaotic, to say the least.

While some critics are calling the dystopian “fable” about a Roman-style power struggle in New York (er, New Rome) “overstuffed,” “juicy and weird” and “a work of absolute madness,” others concede that “while it might should never have been created,” “we should be so grateful that it exists.”

Self-financed by Coppola, 85, to the tune of $120 million, based on a script that the Godfather According to the director, the film took decades to come to fruition, and the two-hour, thirteen-minute film received a seven-minute standing ovation from the Cannes audience. Still, it’s had its share of detractors and hasn’t found a U.S. distributor yet, leaving a nationwide release date up in the air for now.

Megalopolis Adam Driver plays Cesar Catilina, a visionary architect who wants to build a utopian version of the sci-fi version of New York on the brink of the abyss, à la the Roman Empire.

However, Catilina encounters resistance from corrupt mayor Franklyn Cicero (Giancarlo Esposito), who is less concerned with creating a sustainable future and instead wants to pave paradise with a parking lot – or, in this case, a casino. The mayor’s daughter Julia (Nathalie Emmanuel) complicates matters by falling for Catilina and struggling with her own alliances.

Rounding out the cast are Shia LaBeouf as Catilina’s scheming cousin Clodio, Aubrey Plaza as sugar daddy-seeking journalist Wow Platinum and Jon Voight as the sugar daddy.

If this sounds like a Roman conspiracy saga, that’s because it’s based on a historical event.

Coppola said he had an idea for it Megalopolis way back in the 1980s, shortly after he finished filming his infamous Marlon Brando vehicle Apocalypse now. Coincidentally, that film, which had its own controversies and accusations of excess, also premiered at Cannes and won the Palme d’Or in 1979.

Reports of cast member quits, script rewrites, and production delays have also survived Megalopolis in limbo for years. However, the 2001 footage was kept and even included in the final iteration. To finance the multimillion-dollar production, Coppola even sold part of his winery to cover costs.

“The money doesn’t matter,” Coppola said at a press conference in Cannes on May 17.

Giancarlo Esposito, Laurence Fishburne, Nathalie Emmanuel, Francis Ford Coppola and Adam Driver at the Cannes Film Festival.

Giancarlo Esposito, Laurence Fishburne, Nathalie Emmanuel, Francis Ford Coppola and Adam Driver at the Cannes Film Festival. (JB Lacroix/FilmMagic via Getty Images)

Coppola was accused of behaving inappropriately toward female extras while filming a nightclub scene, according to a May 14 report from the Guardian.

“For example, he would have pulled women onto his lap. And during a bacchanalian nightclub scene shot for the film, according to witnesses, Coppola came onto the set and attempted to kiss some of the topless and scantily clad female extras,” the Guardian reported.

One of the film’s executive producers, Darren Demetre, claimed he was unaware of complaints of harassment on set and issued a statement in Coppola’s defense.

“Francis walked around the set to set the mood of the scene by giving friendly hugs and kisses on the cheek to the cast and background players. It was his way of helping to inspire and establish the club atmosphere,” the statement read in part. “I have never been aware of any complaints of harassment or bad behavior during the course of the project.”

Other complaints, according to the Guardian, include Coppola sitting in his caravan for “hours on end” instead of planning or filming, and Adam Driver having to sit in a chair for hours to employ an “old-school” filming technique fit instead of using digital tools that “could have been done in 10 minutes.”

One crew member told the Guardian that working on the film “was like watching a train wreck unfold day after day, week after week, and knowing that everyone there had done their utmost to help prevent the train wreck.”

Plaza called her first impression of Coppola’s script “a beautiful nightmare” and told Deadline that the director “has such a magical way of directing and inspiring actors.”

Plaza said he ran the production “like a theater camp” and added that Coppola “seems to gather a group of interesting, wild actors and then try to inspire them to play.”

Coppola acknowledged the political nature of his film, as well as its echoes of the current political climate in the US, saying at a press conference after the film’s premiere: “What is happening in America, in our republic, in our democracy is exactly how Rome lost their republic thousands of years ago.

“Our politics have brought us to the point where we may lose a republic, and so it is not the people who have become politicians who will be the answer, but the artists of America.”

Coppola then brought Voight, who has supported former President Donald Trump, into the conversation, adding, “One of the things I could say about our great cast is that they reflect all kinds of political ideas.”

Voight responded philosophically rather than politically.

“Where are we going? I think we’re all asking ourselves this question right now. Where are we going and what can we do?” he said. “It’s on my mind every second of every day to see what we can do to make this world a better place.”

Although the film is still in competition at Cannes, it has not yet secured a distributor in the US

At an industry screening of the film in March, potential distributors reportedly gave a “muted” response and declined to make offers at the time, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Coppola was still able to find a distributor, both at the festival and beyond. The last shot of the Megalopolis trailer includes an on-screen title that reads: “Only in Theaters 2024.”

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