France—Cannes endured the repulsive sight of a woman consuming her own vomit on Monday, but the film’s heroine, Mia Wasikowska, explained that it was a dark satire on the difficulties faced by adolescents.
Last year, the film festival’s top prize went to “Triangle of Sadness,” a film that featured a 15-minute vomiting scene, and this year, “Club Zero,” a film about a nutrition cult, featured a similarly revolting scene.
In a particularly revolting scenario, a girl who wants to save the environment vomits in front of her horrified parents and then consumes her own vomit with a fork.
Wasikowska, known for her roles in “Alice in Wonderland” and “Crimson Peak,” stated that the film explores the anxieties of younger generations in the face of climate change and global inequalities through diet disorders and sects.
Wasikowska told the AFP, “If I were a teenager today, I would be so anxious about the world we are inheriting.”
“I was moved by the fact that these students joined this class because they care about the environment; many of them want to consume less meat and be more conscientious. It is the most attractive aspect of youth. And it becomes tainted, influenced.”
The new film by Austrian director Jessica Hausner is set in a prestigious European college and focuses on a group of adolescents who fall under the influence of Ms. Novak (Wasikowska), an advocate of “conscious eating.”
This entails consuming nothing in an effort to save the planet and reject consumption culture.
Hausner told AFP on Monday, prior to the film’s Cannes premiere, that her film examined what occurs when an extreme idea is pursued to its logical conclusion.
“It’s not to make people uncomfortable; it’s to demonstrate how radicalization works,” Hausner said of the nauseating vomiting scene.
With its satirical tone and hints of absurdist humor, it recalls the themes and style of “Triangle of Sadness,” which won the Palme d’Or for Swedish director Ruben Ostlund, who heads the jury for this year’s competition.
Hausner and Wasikowska, an Australian actress who has appeared in films by Tim Burton, Jim Jarmusch, and David Cronenberg, researched cults and factions in preparation for their roles.
The key for Hausner was to make the instructor a sincere believer as opposed to a malevolent manipulator.
Wasikowska remarked, “Jessica was adamant that she is a true believer and that what she is doing is the right thing.”
The children and Ms. Novak “begin to believe in something we would normally call wrong and insane, and it is very difficult to accept that people believe in ideas that are destructive or harmful,” as stated by Hausner.
Emily Beecham earned the award for best actress at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival for her performance in “Little Joe,” a film about an experiment in plant genetics that goes too far.
Similar to that film, “Club Zero” employs vivid colors and produces an unnerving, absurdist atmosphere.
“I don’t set the films in a particular time, so I try to create an artificial style with the visuals,” said Hausner, adding that she was “bored” with naturalism.