“Bonjour!” I chirped loudly as I entered the café I have, over the past eleven days, come to think of as my local.
“Bonjour!” replied the café owner, “Pain au chocolat et café o’lait?”
A chocolate danish and a coffee. My usual order.
“Oui! Merci!” I said, taking my spot at my regular table.
Over this festival, I had gotten used to my daily routine, waking up at 7am, having breakfast at 7:45am, at 8am going into the Grand Lumiere theatre, sitting in the same row of seats with Stevie, Ward, Nadia and Didier (representing Asia, Belgium, South Africa, France and me for Australia), watching a 2 hour film, rushing to the press conference, eating something bread and cheese related for lunch, doing interviews or working at my apartment, eating a crepe in the afternoon, meeting a friend for a drink, seeing another movie, having a late night dinner of pizza, popping into a party for a quick drink, then to bed for 4-6 hours of sleep. And repeat times 10.
On this last morning, 11 days of that routine, I eyed my jeans with suspicion. Unworn since arriving at the festival, I knew they would be the true test of whether I needed to claim “excess carb-age” at LAX, denying that this muffin top belonged to me, even though I myself had packed it with croissants and unfortunately no, not given it to anyone else. OK buddy, let’s do this, I thought towards the jeans, and steeled myself for a challenge. To my great surprise, there was none. My fave sometimes-too-tight-on-a-good-day black jeans not only fit, but allowed me to go up an extra belt hole. Whaa? I said to myself, what kind of black magic is this?? It seems French women really do not get fat, even when said French woman is actually an Aussie chick going for it because she’s “on holiday”.
I wasn’t really “on holiday” in Cannes of course, covering the film festival for work. But when you love what you do so much that you’d do it anyway, even if you were rich, it’s easy to get confused. Trouble is, I’m “on holiday” so much for work that my “treating myself” outWEIGHS my “being good”. But this trip, I have miraculously gotten away with it… If you don’t look for the cheese that’s surely stuck inside my arteries.
“Merci!” I sang, as I paid for my final Cannes breakfast.
“A demain?” he asked, continuing our regular routine, “Tomorrow?”
“No,” I said, and replied in French (why does it always get easier to speak it just as I leave?) that I’d be back next year.
“Ah,” he said, wiping away a pretend tear and giving me a kiss on both cheeks.
I’d like to think he’ll miss my sparkling personality, but more likely he’s sad because I would over tip daily – too scared to offend, but too lazy to learn the actual rules.
Sitting in our regular row inside the theatre, I waited for my final Cannes film to begin, Roman Polanski’s ‘Venus In Fur’. Continuing his recent trend, this is a film version of a stage play, which I remembered I had seen just as it started. The play is witty and sharp, a two-hander about a director auditioning an actress, and the change of power between them. Here the two are played by Mathieu Amalric and Emmanuelle Seigner (Polanski’s wife). They are both excellent, he looks like a younger version of Polanski himself, and she plays the multiple shades in her character as effortlessly as Beyonce turns into Sasha Fierce. Which is to say, she’s great. Like ‘Carnage’, I don’t think Polanski did anything particularly special with the adaptation, just filmed a great play well, with the right cast, and because the play is good, the film is also.
Doing a round of hugs and saying good bye to everyone, I rushed off to grab my bags and get the shuttle, discovering along the way that of course, I had lost the free shuttle ride ticket handed out to all the journalists. It’s always something with me.
On the plane from Nice to New York, a lady in the seat next to mine asked me to take her photo. When I swiveled around to snap it, she said, in broken English “Can you not stand?” Turns out, she was on her first plane ride ever, and throughout the 8 hours I watched, smiling at her excitement, as she took photos of everything. Her camera contains snaps of her seat, the plane, all the meals, wine and snacks, and me looking surprised. One thing she didn’t take photos of, was what happened to her during landing. Thanks to high winds at JFK, it was the bumpiest, scariest, landing I have had. Her meals and wine ended up in the vomit paper bag, and as we sat for an hour on the tarmac, she wasn’t even allowed to get up to throw it out.
“It’s not usually like this,” I said to her, “That was terrible!”
Because of the delay, and the hour it took to get through Immigration (the lines weren’t long, just the officer processing my line kept taking people into a scary side room where he’d return, they wouldn’t, I held my breathe as he stamped me in) I missed the connecting flight to LA and waited in a line full of angry travellers. Airports really bring out the SUPER FUN and GENEROUS side in everyone, and as the tired re-booker was getting yelled at from all sides, I slipped her a chocolate bar I didn’t eat from the plane. She smiled thanks and secretly squeezed me on the next flight, in an exit row so I’d have more room, then turned to tell the man screaming at her for weather delays that there were no more seats.
Hours later I arrived in LA, and even after all that, as I waited for my bag (which apparently decided to stay in New York for a night out on the town) I was smiling. It’s not sad come home from a trip when you love the home you’re going to. I had a fulfilling, memorable, exciting, joyous time at the Cannes Film Festival, and I’m equally happy to be back in LA, awaiting my next adventure. I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for following along.
Top 5 Cannes Film Festival Picks (from what I saw)
1. Inside Llewyn Davis
2. Fruitvale Station
3. Blue Is The Warmest Colour
4. All Is Lost
5. The Grand Beauty