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Cannes 2024: Coppola’s ‘Megalopolis’ Collapses Under Its Own Ambitions

Francis Ford Coppola’s name brings high expectations, but the film's numerous flaws culminate into a disastrous experience.

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Cannes 2024: Coppola’s ‘Megalopolis’ Collapses Under Its Own Ambitions

Legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola has been quietly preparing this dream project for nearly 40 years. Naturally, film fans and critics alike have been eager to find out what this mega project is all about. Having directed some of the greatest films the world has ever seen, from ‘The Conversation’ to ‘The Godfather’ trilogy and ‘Apocalypse Now’, Coppola’s latest work, ‘Megalopolis’, was marketed as his most ambitious project yet.

Originating in the 1980s, the script was set aside due to financial limitations. Now, with Coppola's amassed wealth from his winery, he managed to fund the film himself. Set in a future where most of New York City had been destroyed, the film follows an architect (Adam Driver) determined to rebuild the city as a utopia fashioned after a rose-tinted vision of ancient Rome. Coppola not only conceived the concept, but also assumed the roles of screenwriter and director.

Upon releasing the trailer, Coppola declared, "Our new film is the best work I’ve ever had the privilege to preside over." He couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, it’s unquestionably his worst film yet. That is saying something, considering he last directed the almost unwatchable ‘Twixt’. Coppola seemed to have so many big ideas, but he swirled them together in the most simplistic way possible. I really wanted to like this film, and I’m extremely disappointed to report that ‘Megalopolis’ is a collection of one bad idea after another. If I had the time, I could write pages about everything I despised about this film. Ironically, its only clear message is about how we should not waste time - something you'll fully appreciate after sitting through it.

Every thought conveyed in the film is delivered with a superficial level of intellect, lacking the depth and nuance one would expect from a work aiming for cinematic gravitas. Aesthetically, the film resembles a real estate commercial awkwardly masquerading as a perfume advertisement. Its attempt to blend Roman costumes with contemporary attire results in a visual mishmash, where every outfit appears to have been haphazardly selected from a cosplay store. The writing fuses lazy rehashed quotes like, “We spend time we don’t have looking at things we don’t need,” with cringeworthy, campy dialogue such as, “You’re anal as hell, Cesar. I, on the other hand, am oral as hell.” ‘Megalopolis’ is a poorly written, inadequately shot snooze fest that features career-worst performances from Adam Driver and Shia LeBeouf. The film's numerous flaws culminate in an experience that is entirely devoid of any redeeming qualities.

Don’t get me wrong - Coppola has every right to spend USD 120 million of his own money to fund his dream project. The good news is, you have no obligation to see it. I realise now that I still haven't clearly explained what this film is about, or perhaps I have indirectly. After all, both the architect and the director share an overly ambitious and corny vision of the future, and they both struggle to bring it to life. In ‘Megalopolis’, we learn that the architect can manipulate time by making it stop. As I watched the film, I wished I had the ability to skip time, or at least reverse it, so I could avoid witnessing one of cinema’s greatest artists fall short.

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