Brad Pitt steps out at Cannes for new film "Killing Them Softly"

Actor Brad Pitt poses at the 'Killing Them Softly' photocall during the 65th Annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 22, 2012, in Cannes, France. Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Actor Brad Pitt poses at the 'Killing Them Softly' photocall during the 65th Annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 22, 2012, in Cannes, France.
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

(CBS/AP) The star-studded Cannes Film Festival got is biggest shot of celebrity adrenaline on Tuesday as Brad Pitt arrived for the screening of his new film "Killing Them Softly," which he produced and stars in.

Pictures: Cannes Film Festival 2012
Pictures: Fashion at Cannes

The film, an adaptation of a George V. Higgins crime novel directed by Andrew Dominik, was screened Tuesday in competition for the Palme d'Or.

While many were wrangling with the film's audacious juxtaposing of a story of violent back-stabbing criminals with an overt political subtext, others were being gently let down by Pitt: No, Angelina Jolie wasn't with him, as she's preparing for a role, he said. And their highly anticipated wedding has no date set, he said in a press conference.

But "Killing Them Softly" left much for discussion. Pitt stars as a kind of fixer who organizes the necessary retribution of two thieves (Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn) who rob a poker game of gangsters. Woven throughout are billboards, radio broadcast and televised speeches of U.S. President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush.

Though the book ("Cogan's Trade") takes place in the 1970s, the film is set in 2008, during the presidential election and the financial crisis. At one point, Pitt's character pronounces: "America's not a country, it's a business."

Pitt said he doesn't intend "Killing Them Softly," which is scheduled for theatrical release this September, to be read as his views or to be fodder for the upcoming election season.

"I always feel that crime films are about capitalism," said Dominik, the director of "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," which also starred  Pitt. ''It's the only genre where it's perfectly accepted for all the characters to be motivated by a desire for money only."


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