Much of the discussion around Albert Serra’s monumental new film has centered around its incongruity: an uncommonly “accessible” film for the notoriously abstruse filmmaker of grotesque and minimal narratives, one embraced by even many of his usual detractors. Indeed, its late-breaking addition to an otherwise fairly anemic Cannes competition line-up felt entirely fitting, a bomb (nuclear or not) thrown into the traditional order. But what makes Pacifiction such an enrapturing experience is the mysterious ways it emerges as both hypnotic — maintaining the same mood and undercurrents of paranoia surrounding the possible resumption of French nuclear testing in Tahiti — and disruptive, marked by indelible scenes of sudden impressionism: a boat and jet-ski ride on enormous crashing waves, a visit to a decaying house at sunset, a nightclub that becomes almost monochrome in its deep hues. It wouldn’t be too much to say that there has never been a film that looks like this, somehow shot with Blackmagic Pocket cameras that yield a kind of lush, alien glow, where even the many lackadaisical scenes of petty interactions thrum with an unidentifiable anxiety. And at the center is Benoît Magimel, a performance as galvanizing an anchor as Léaud in The Death of Louis XIV, where the soft sleaze of his voice and his imposing white suit-clad presence lend the exact kind of empty swagger that guides the film along. In its invocation of colonialism’s past and present by way of nothing except suggestion and sheer style, it is nigh impossible to imagine a more fully assured, a more tantalizing film this year.