Cannes 2024: The Girl with the Needle, Wild Diamond | Festivals & Awards

“The Girl with the Needle” is von Horn’s first feature to screen in the official selection—but not, technically, his first film to be selected for it. After Cannes canceled its 2020 edition, the programmers announced several dozen titles that would have shown there had the festival happened. Von Horn’s “Sweat,” a portrait of a fitness influencer who struggles to balance her online self-dramatization with her actual feelings, was among them. And that film, too, has several points of intersection with Agathe Riedinger’s “Wild Diamond,” the day’s other competition feature, and the only film in this year’s competition that is a directorial debut. 

Opting for a 1.33:1 ratio, “Wild Diamond” answers the unasked question, “What if Rosetta—of the Dardenne brothers’ Palme d’Or-winning film ‘Rosetta’—were an Instagram user?” Constantly trailed by Riedinger’s camera, the 19-year-old Liane (Malou Khebizi—like Carmen Sonne, carrying an entire movie) spends her days watching her younger sister, contending with a barely attentive mother, and making money from sneak sales of flash drives and perfume.

She spots a way out when she gets a chance to audition for a reality show called “Miracle Island,” whose ninth season would bring her to Miami. It doesn’t matter that she’d partying on camera with douchebros who, she admits at her audition, don’t respect women. It doesn’t matter that the programmers may pressure her to part with her virginity, which she doesn’t disclose. (“Do you do it easily or not?” she’s asked at the casting session, which surely tests the boundaries of legality. “We don’t want any goody-goodies.”) She is not happy about the pay disparity between her and her prospective co-stars, but that doesn’t appear to be a dealbreaker.

Elsewhere, a social counselor, skeptical of Liane’s prospects and doubtful that fan meetings are the basis of a durable career, urges caution. But Liane, somewhere between determined and delusional, sets out to improve her chances.

“Wild Diamond” teases a few interesting angles—psychological, economic, religious—without ever resolving them. Part of the trouble may be that influencers are already starting to seem past their expiration date as a subject, and other movies (like the 2019 documentary “Jawline”) have done a better job of elucidating what makes the TikTok generation tick. “Wild Diamond” is the sort of feature that might have been a breakout in Un Certain Regard. In competition, the glare of the spotlight is harsh.