(Cannes) One of the most anticipated productions of the festival is, in fact, a series intended for a platform. Surrounded by the scent of scandal and starring Lily-Rose Depp and Abel The Weeknd Tesfaye, The Idol, selected out of competition, has only one unanimous asset: the remarkable performance of its actress.
To those who might be wondering, no, the selection of a prestige series intended for a platform is not a first at Cannes. Irma Vep, by Olivier Assayas, was presented on the Croisette just last year. More than 10 years ago, this same Assayas presented Carlos here, revealing Edgar Ramirez at the same time. That said, never had we seen a series cause so much excitement among festival-goers. Preceded by a sulphurous rumor, The Idol was treated to a gala screening at the Grand Théâtre Lumière.
It is obviously difficult to make a definitive judgment on a series with six episodes when only the first two have been presented. Thing is, The Idol, directed by Sam Levinson (creator of the Euphoria series), underscores this intention to deliver a bold and provocative production a bit too heavily. Take Entourage, sprinkle it with a little 9½ Weeks and Fifty Shades of Grey, and you’ll get pretty much what the creators of this series (Reza Fahim, Abel The Weeknd Tesfaye and Sam Levinson) set out to do. With, alas, more or less happiness.
One certainty: Lily-Rose Depp offers a remarkable performance here, the quality of which is far superior to that of the work she must defend. The part of the story taking place inside the inner circle of Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp), a pop music superstar preparing to return to the stage after having to retire for a year due to a mental illness too heavy, is very well conducted. Mention to Jane Adams, imperial in the role of the director of the label for which Jocelyn records.
The problem is that the story focuses more on the dazzling encounter between the singer and Tedros (The Weeknd), a bar manager who will develop a very strong carnal bond with the star. Lily-Rose Depp ignites the screen, Abel Tesfaye, not so much. The epidermal complicity that these two beings struck by love at first sight should in principle share is not at all tangible on the screen. And then, let’s face it, The Weeknd is not a very good actor.
During a press conference held on Tuesday, Abel Tesfaye, who compares the character he plays to Dracula, explained that the idea for this series was initially to offer a slightly twisted – and dark – fantasy on the music industry.
“The character of Jocelyn [Lily-Rose Depp] is a bit inspired by my own experiences, except that, unlike her, I was lucky enough to make good decisions in my life. »
Featuring several scenes of nudity (one sequence echoes the function of intimacy coordinator), The Idol thus reflects the sexualization of culture, which Sam Levinson attributes to a particular phenomenon.
“We live in a very sexualized world, particularly in the United States, where pornography now has a very strong influence in the psyche of younger generations. This is particularly reflected in the world of pop music. »
“Jocelyn is a performer in all aspects of her life, not just her professional life,” added Lily-Rose Depp. Even the way she dresses constantly reveals something about her. The character’s occasional nudity also echoes his emotional transparency. »
When asked by a journalist who reminded him of the Rolling Stone magazine report about a chaotic production that faced multiple problems, Sam Levinson denied all alleged behind-the-scenes intrigue.
“When my wife made me read the article, I looked at her and said, ‘I think we have the biggest show of the summer!’ We are well aware that our series is provocative. But these allegations are completely foreign to me. My only regret is that they intentionally left out all the things in their article that didn’t fit the story they wanted to tell. »
Lily-Rose Depp added, “It’s always kind of sad and disheartening to read mean, untrue things about someone you care about. This did not reflect my experience at all. »
Anyway, the team was given a long ovation during the official screening held on Monday, and Sam Levinson, son of Barry (Rain Man), was very moved.
“It was like one of my biggest dreams coming true. When I was 10, I didn’t know anything about Cannes, but I heard that Pulp Fiction had won the Palme d’Or. It struck my mind, even though I was too young to be allowed to watch the Tarantino movie. It was thanks to Cannes that I started to take an interest in French cinema and international cinema. »
The Idol premieres June 4 on HBO/Crave.