The 67th Cannes Film Festival began officially yesterday and once again things kicked off with a celebrity driven mediocrity that just doesn’t seem to fit in with the tenor and quality of the official lineup. Last year it was The Great Gatsby and this year it was Grace of Monaco. When you experience (even from a distance) the paparazzi orgy that explodes on the red carpet before one of these things, it’s easy to see that the Festival organizers just want a little hype and a little juice to kick things off. The quality of the movie doesn’t really matter. What counts is who’s in it. The thing is, I didn’t come 6000 miles to see crummy movies no matter who stars in them. Last year I very nearly skipped Gatsby, but relented because it was the first film of my first Cannes and I wanted to soak everything in. I regretted that decision. The time would’ve been better spent having dinner and a glass of wine at some random brasserie off the Rue Meynadier or trying to get back some lost sleep with a nice nap. But no. I went. Year One, I totally bit off more than I could chew from the very start of the festival and quickly burned out. I don’t plan on making that mistake this year.
Having said that, there were a couple of reasons to see Grace of Monaco. For starters of course, Monaco is just up the road and Grace met Prince Rainier here in Cannes, so if you’re going to see the movie, why not here and now. The other thing is that director Olivier Dahan (La Vie En Rose) is currently in a dispute with US distributor Harvey Weinstein over the cut of the film. Harvey Scissorhands has his own take about what will work in the US and Dahan is none too pleased about having his artistic vision trampled on by a money man. For better or for worse, this might be the only chance for me to see Dahan’s version of events. I’ll be curious down the road to see how it differs from the Harvey cut. I’m told the changes amount to 5 or 7 minutes of screen time, but even that little amount could radically change the tenor of the film. We’ll see.
As I wrote in my review, Grace of Monaco is fine-ish as is. I have a feeling Nicole Kidman haters are going to criticize her because she doesn’t look much like Kelly, but that’s not a fair estimation of her subtle performance. There was only one other screening during yesterday’s official start of the festival, but I skipped it in the interest of making it back to the apartment to take another crack at a decent night’s sleep in the hope of beating this jet lag before it starts to become a real problem. I’d been up roughly 24 hours counting the time getting ready for the trip, the flight itself and then the few hours staying awake on the ground here in Cannes. That night I got about 3 hours of sleep and then was up for another 18 ½ hours before turning out the lights last night. Had I gone to the second film, Timbuktu, there’s no way I could’ve gotten any writing done and still managed to get to bed at a reasonable hour. I’ll hit a pickup screening of the film tomorrow.
Instead, I spent the day taking pictures (many of which I already posted in yesterday’s pre-festival diary) and also tracking down a universal laptop AC adapter to replace the one I left at home. I remembered my wallet, my passport and even a pair of pants to keep them in, but not having use of a laptop would’ve been a disaster. There’s a press room I could access, but having to wait in line for a free work station and not being able to get any work done from the apartment would’ve rendered moot my whole reason for being here.
It turns out it was good to take it easy. I got about 6 hours of interrupted sleep last night which isn’t great, but it’s an improvement and so far I’m feeling pretty good. Today I’m going to slowly ramp up the activity and see how it goes.