Cannes: Matthew McConaughey responds to 'Sea of Trees' boos

Matthew McConaughey's Movie Booed
Matthew McConaughey's Movie Booed

For a while it looked like the savaging Sea of Trees received after its press screening on Friday would be the elephant in the room at Saturday's press conference.

The assembled journalists tip-toed carefully around the subject, sometimes avoiding it entirely and occasionally offering the mild suggestion that perhaps the film wasn't among Gus Van Sant's finest, but without ever going in for the kill. As if expecting the issue to arise, the director, plus stars Matthew McConaughey and Naomi Watts, appeared somewhat subdued, McConaughey even putting up a somewhat defensive, unsmiling front to otherwise respectful questions.

And then, just past the 30-minute mark, it landed. Pre-empted with the classic "I really loved the film, however a lot of colleagues disagreed with me" get out clause, Van Sant and McConaughey were asked to comment on the bad reception.

"Anyone has as much right to boo as they do to ovate," said McConaughey, before the mic was quickly moved on by the moderator. But Van Sant was pressed to answer, although his response was slightly less succinct.

"I read a review this morning, and it was one of those reviews, it was very definitive, I was imagining everyone was the same person as the one writing the review, and I thought now I know where we stand," he said.

"I remember there was always a story after Elephant screened, there were fisticuffs, fighting off whether it was good or bad, actually punching, and that was at Cannes as well. Who knows, day by day, whether the screening was today or yesterday, whether it makes a difference, I'm not sure at the end of a particularly screening, I don't know."

"Ovate", as it happens, means "egg-shaped," so perhaps Van Sant's answers did actually make more sense.

The competition film has its red carpet premiere Saturday night.

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