Jewish film director Mike Leigh is a strong favourite for the coveted Palm D’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, after a rapturous reception for his new film, Another Year.
If he wins, it would be Mr Leigh’s third award at Cannes; he won the Palm D’Or for his 1996 film Secrets and Lies, and Best Director in 1993 for Naked.
His latest Cannes offering, starring Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen and Lesley Manville, centres on a contented married couple, Tom and Gerri, who offer sanctuary to their troubled friends, chiefly the bitter and fragile divorcee Mary, and self-hating, overweight alcoholic Ken.
Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw called it a “rich and deeply compassionate film, one of the best of Leigh's late period.”
The Independent said it was “an acutely well-observed study of needy and unhappy people desperately trying to make sense of their lives” and the Telegraph called it “a mature, wise reflection on life’s joys and sorrows. Another Year can take its place beside the very best films in Mike Leigh’s career.”
Mr Leigh told reporters at the film’s screening: "I've always been concerned, for as long as I've ever been making films or stage plays, with celebrating the lives of ordinary people. That's what it's all about."
Since the film’s screening, Paddy Power has odds of 9/4 for Mr Leigh to pick up his second Palm D’Or.
The awards will be presented at the festival’s closing ceremony on May 23.