It’s a tale of two kings at Cannes, as Jude Law’s demonic performance as Henry VIII wowed critics on Monday, just days after Johnny Depp’s “comeback” as France’s Louis XV.
Fat, fuming and with a stomach-turning infection in his leg, Law’s version of the 16th century monarch in “Firebrand”, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, is one of the more disgusting tyrants ever put on film but has made him an immediate awards contender.
To recreate the atmosphere, Law said he went to a perfume-maker who mixed up the smell of “puss, blood, fecal matter and sweat” for him to use.
His co-star Alicia Vikander, who plays Henry’s sixth and final wife Catherine Parr, joked that the camera and boom operators were struggling not to puke from the smell.
“Firebrand” focuses on Parr, the only of Henry’s wives to outlive him, and is one of many films at this year’s festival that give a female point of view.
Vikander told AFP she was impressed by Parr, who was an “extremely intelligent and extremely progressive” woman.
The well-received film arrived in Cannes just days after Depp, 59, starred in festival opener, “Jeanne du Barry”, in which the controversial star tested out his French language skills as France’s King Louis XV.
Law and Depp once faced off in Harry Potter spin-off films “Fantastic Beasts” until Depp was axed following his ex-wife’s accusations of domestic abuse.
There was more glitz to come later Monday, with the first two episodes of TV series “The Idol” getting a special screening at the French Riviera festival.
Produced by musician Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye and starring Depp’s daughter, Lily-Rose Depp, it has had a tumultuous production with talks of multiple re-writes.
Meanwhile, the race for the festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or is heating up.
As it enters its second week, there are still movies to come from past winners, Britain’s Ken Loach and Germany’s Wim Wenders, among others.
An early front-runner is British director Jonathan Glazer’s “The Zone of Interest”, a unique and horrifying look at the private life of a Nazi officer working at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Critics were near-unanimous in their praise, Variety calling it “chilling and profound, meditative and immersive, a movie that holds human darkness up to the light and examines it as if under a microscope”.
It was partly inspired by a book of the same name by British novelist Martin Amis, who died on Saturday at 73.
There was also a lot of love for Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore’s “May December,” which looks at the relationship between an older woman and a schoolboy, still married years after their relationship became a tabloid scandal.
That may go down well with jury president Ruben Ostlund, last year’s winner for “Triangle of Sadness”, who likes his arthouse films with some lighter touches.
The festival has also seen major out-of-competition world premieres for “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” and Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” which received rave reviews over the weekend.