Director Gus Van Sant’s new drama The Sea of Trees debuted to a crowd full of boos Friday at the Cannes Film Festival.
When asked about the negative audience reaction during a press conference Saturday, star of the film Matthew McConaughey said he’s fine with it.
“I heard that,” he said. “And I would say, real simply, anyone has as much right to boo as they do to ovate.”
Upon reading one review of his film the next morning, Van Sant shrugged it off and said he now knows “where we stand” before referencing his crime drama Elephant that divided audiences with fistfights in 2003.
“There were fisticuffs…over [whether the movie] was good or bad, and actual punches,” he told The Wrap. “Who knows?”
The Sea of Trees tells the story of a suicidal man (McConaughey) who ventures off into a forest near Mt. Fuji.
He befriends a lost Japanese man and the two eventfully search for an escape.
The Wrap reports that the film’s cast and crew entered the press room at Cannes without applause, though some of the spectators pointed out they enjoyed the flick.
Van Sant credited the “jigsaw puzzle” as his attraction to the film while McConaughey described it as “a supernatural trip through purgatory.”
McConaughey said of his character: He “took this trip through annihilation to get to salvation. You have to face death to find life, and I found that life-affirming.”
Despite the negative crowd reaction, the actor grinned and said he was grateful to make an appearance at Cannes: “I’m happy to be here. I’m happy that the film got in…I like the film.”
“We’re declaring now. ‘Here it is. Hope you like it,'” he added.