David Cuevas takes a look at Zero Fucks Given′, as part of FilmHounds’ ongoing Cannes Film Festival coverage.

Everyday, hundreds of transactions are processed in the clouds. Perfume, coffee, alcohol, and even the occasional memory foam travel pillow are provided by greedy corporations for the simple pleasure of air-mile credit. Airlines strive to exploit capitalism within their metallic chariots in the sky, relying purely on duty free sales as an additional measure of profit. It’s the core exploration featured within Zero Fucks Given, a film which follows the perils and downfalls of a flight stewardess and her corporate exploits over the span of a few eventful weeks.

The film utilises entrapped environments —both in air and on land— to create a unique contextual juxtaposition. Drinking, partying, shagging and dabbling in narcotics are merely coping devices for our lead heroine, as she is continuously faced with adverse corporate regulation that slowly deteriorates her broken soul.  It’s quite the hefty premise; only for it to be slightly undermined by its dedicated commitment towards social-realist cinematic stylings.

Completely relying on brief cutting and a lack of non-diegetic sound, the film occasionally becomes redundant in its visual and auditory storytelling. As a globetrotting lackadaisical portrait of millennial responsibility, the film also continuously repeats its minor tangents and forced family dynamics into a narrative that so desperately could have focused on the more essential semantics at hand. It’s capitalism on wings; a simple yet timely premise that could have benefited from a far less melodramatic crux. 

With such a bold title at the helm, the directional content found within Zero Fucks Given lacks the same audacious spirit. Minimal artistic risks are taken both behind and in-front of the camera, in a film that could have genuinely worked more effectively as a hybrid feature. Similar to Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland and its exploration of the working class, Zero Fucks Given should have tested its creative waters by experimenting with real crowds of non-professional actors for utmost realist effect. Most of the film is staged and questionably artificial; where something more pure and closer to reality could have brought a more intriguing portrait of enforced capitalism to the limelight. 

Where it lacks in immersion and motivation, the best compliment that can be said about Zero Fucks Given is its well-intentioned desire to present the day in the life of a career that is ever so frequently dismissed by the commonwealth. Even in its meandering subplots and uninspired direction, there’s still something worthy of substance within all of its low-fi stakes. A disappointment? Most definitely, but at the very least it’s a film with a substantial amount of purpose, catharsis, and empathy to drive its lesser moments of convoluted drama past the occasional on-flight turbulence. 

Still Courtesy – Charades
Zero Fucks Given premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, as part of the Semaine de la Critique sidebar. The film is currently seeking international distribution.

By David Cuevas

David Cuevas is a writer, reporter, and the official festivals editor (US/Canada) for FilmHounds Magazine. In his spare time, you can find him watching a bunch of movies while contemplating on his own existence.

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