In Cannes, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga was the talk of the festival. Reviews were generally glowing and everyone agreed that the movie will be a blockbuster hit when it opens in cinemas in Australia from May 23.

At the press conference in Cannes I asked director George Miller, now a sprightly 79, if growing up in Chinchilla, Queensland, had an influence on creating the wide-open spaces of his Mad Max films.

“I grew up in a rural town where, at the time, there was no television, there was no internet,” Miller says. “There was just school, comics, schoolbooks – and the Saturday matinee. The movie theatre in town was like a secular cathedral, a church, and we’d go there and we’d see a cartoon, news reels, serials and two features.

“The rest of the time my brothers and I were lucky enough to play. We played making things based on what we saw in the movies and acting out what we saw. We were on horses, we were picking up garbage can lids to look like knights, and things like that. I think I’m doing a very, very similar thing all these decades later. It was a big influence on me.”

Now delivering the fifth movie in his Mad Max saga, Miller says he is still driven by curiosity.

What makes him particularly happy with Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, though, is that the accents are almost entirely Australian. The film starts with a satellite view, positioning the action in Australia. The accent exception is Anya Taylor-Joy imitating Charlize Theron’s accent as Furiosa in Fury Road. Chris Hemsworth as the villain Dementus adopts the accent of his Australian grandfather.

“We never really discussed it,” Miller says.

The big revelation is British actor Tom Burke as Praetorian Jack with a perfect Aussie accent. Miller notes how in the original Mad Max film the accents were all American for the release in the US, where the movie flopped.

When Burke arrived to make Furiosa he told Miller he was going to do an Australian accent.

“I said, don’t try, it’s too difficult, really good people have tried it,” Miller recalls.

At the Cannes press conference I suggest Meryl Streep as one of those. Streep, who was receiving a lifetime achievement award at the festival, had famously uttered those words “the dingo took my baby” in 1988’s Evil Angels.

“Yes, even Meryl at that time, a genius as she is, didn’t quite make it,” Miller concedes. “When I first went to the United States, and we said we were from Australia, they asked, ‘Do you speak English?’ They thought we were Austrian. Anyway, with Tom, I said, ‘let’s see’, and suddenly he is speaking in this Australian accent with such an ability that it blew me away. I’ve spent a year in the cutting room listening to it and that’s a really nice thing to happen.”

Brisbane-born Jacob Elordi has made a huge impression since he moved to Los Angeles in 2017. The 26-year-old now appears as a young Richard Gere in Paul Schrader’s draft-dodging drama Oh, Canada, based on Russell Banks’ novel Foregone.  Yet Elordi, who is currently up to his ears in prosthetics playing the monster in Guillermo del Toro’s Frankenstein, shooting in Toronto, was unable to make the trip to Cannes to plug Oh, Canada, his first competition film. Last year he had The Sweet East, as part of Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight sidebar.

Gere and Schrader both sang Elordi’s praises as an actor with enormous talent.

“We had a reading of the script and he reminded me very much of my son, which was great,” Gere says. “He has an incredible warmth to him and a humility to him. He’s genuinely sweet and he works hard and comes to work hard.”

The Queensland connections at Cannes this year continued with Brisbane-based novelist Susan Johnson, who was there to present her memoir Aphrodite’s Breath, a mother and daughter’s Greek island adventure, at the Cannes market’s Shoot the Book! program. The book recounts Johnson taking her 85-year-old mother to live in Greece. Here’s hoping she finds some interest in turning her story into a film.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is in cinemas from May 23.

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