Cannes reporters Mila Gauvin II and Caroline A. Tsai offer a daily blog round-up from the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival in France.
0900 hours. I can’t tell if it’s just being surrounded by rich, beautiful people who parade around in Prabal Gurung and Elie Saab Couture gowns or tuxedos that cost more than my tuition, or sleeping at most four hours a night and subsisting on a diet of exclusively five-euro falafel sandwiches bought from street kiosks, but I think I’m starting to get uglier. Or maybe I’m just becoming more-self aware of my intense averageness. Being around beautiful people will do that to you. It’s like the ugly duckling, with a twist: Maybe with all the other ducklings, you feel ugly. But it’s only when you join a family of swans that you realize: What the hell? I’m a frog.
I’m starting to realize that Cannes is about these kinds of hierarchies more than people may realize. Class, race, color of press badge, age, gender, press badge color, height, hair color, color of press credentials—all of these equally salient factors are grounds for preferential treatment. Mila and I have a joke that the yellow press badge, the lowest tier at the Festival, grants you relative invisibility. Oh, what’s that? A yellow press badge? I don’t… I’m afraid I don’t see anything… Hmm… Did you hear something, Jacques? Mm… I don’t think so? Maybe the light Riviera breeze? Or perhaps a Chanel No. 5-scented fart slipped out of Dame Helen Mirren over there? Hmm.
You see? So many overlapping hierarchies, so many different classes of Festival attendees. That’s what’s really so puzzling about Cannes: You think you’ll run into so many celebrities on the street, but it’s like you inhabit two different versions of the same universe. You see pictures of them arriving at the same airport, or walking on the same red carpet, but it’s like you’re in the “Stranger Things” Upside Down-version of Cannes, which is nice, but a little greasy, and you have yet to see Jean-Luc Godard in the flesh. To really make this disparity clear, I have broken down a sample schedule of my day, as compared to what I imagine to be Oscar-winning actress and President of the Jury Cate Blanchett’s.
Cate Blanchett, 7 a.m.: Ah, another beautiful morning on the French Riviera. I sit up in my king-sized bed with silk sheets in the penthouse suite of the Hotel Majestic, then take in the ocean view from my 180-degree floor-to-ceiling windows. A gentle breeze rustles three garment bags on a rack near the door. Manuel must have brought in my evening gowns in the night—lovely, kind Manuel. Which shall I wear? A dove lands on the Yves Saint Laurent, then cocks its head. Destiny has decided. Thank you, destiny.
Caroline Tsai, 9 a.m.: “CAROLINE!” A tennis shoe narrowly misses my head in its trajectory through the air. I sit up in my twin bed of 200 thread-count cotton. Ah, I have not only bed hair, but chapped lips, retainer mouth, and eye crust. So, you know, my normal look. I slip into something a little less comfortable. It was ten dollars at Zara. And, quel surprise! This entirely synthetic polyester blend is not very breathable. Outside, a dove lands on my shoulder, then poops unceremoniously and flies away. Thank you, destiny.
Cate Blanchett, 8:30 a.m.: And it is time for the first screening of the day. I arrive in style, in a Renault luxury car, driven by Manuel. He opens the door for me as I exit onto the red carpet, and smiles. Manuel has been in love with me for three years and he can never have me. Loving me will only hurt him more. He drives away. Adieu, Manuel!
Caroline Tsai, 11 a.m.: And it is time for the first screening of the day. I arrive by foot and after minimal physical exertion, I am already sweaty. How fun and flirty! The security guard eyes the croissant I packed from breakfast in my bag like, really? You’re going to bring that greasy thing in here? Most of these people haven’t seen a carb in 10 years, and you’re going to traumatize them.
Cate Blanchett, noon: Time to make my graceful exit from the Palais. I am whisked away by a custom Renault, away into the gloriously sunny Riviera afternoon. Manuel is in the driver’s seat. He asks me how my morning was. Ah, Manuel—all day I am surrounded by people who only love me for my stunning, otherworldly beauty or my acting prowess. You’re the only one who truly understands me. Yet we can never be together.
Caroline Tsai, 1 p.m.: Damn. Do I even have time to get a falafel wrap from the kiosk? My next movie is at 4 p.m., but that really means I have to get there like, two hours early. But also I’m borderline hypoglycemic. Do I leave or not? Oh no, my foot crossed the doorway by a few inches and now I have legally left the building and need to go through security again to re-enter. Guess it’s falafel time.
Cate Blanchett, 3 p.m.: Time to return to the Palais for another premiere. This time I am wearing a custom-tailored Versace gown, stitched with five trillion individual Swarovski diamonds. It took 40,000 hours to stitch the bodice alone. “You look beautiful,” Manuel says gently, as I exit the Renault to the Entrée des Artistes. Oh Manuel. If only you knew how much I cared for you, how much I’ll always truly care for you…
Caroline Tsai, 1:30 p.m.: SCARF DOWN THE FALAFEL WRAP! NOW! BEFORE THE SECURITY GUARD SEES!
Cate Blanchett, 8:30 p.m.: Another glittering after-party, accompanied by all my closest friends. Oh, hello Leonardo! How absolutely ravishing you look tonight, Blake—how’s Ryan? Yet surrounded by the friends I love, soaking in luxury and fame, exchanging cheek kisses with Johnny Depp, why do I feel so terribly… alone?
Caroline Tsai, 8 p.m.: Ugh, now my stomach hurts, and I can’t go into the Salle de Soixantième for some reason. I think there’s a premiere of some kind, because there’s a huge swarm of fancy white people in suits, and the security guard keeps redirecting me toward the Entrée des Artistes. Excusez-moi monsieur, can this metal detector see my fear? No? Oh, God, now I’m trapped in the underground annals of the Palais. The inside of this place is a maze. All of it looks the same. Please help.
Cate Blanchett, midnight: Manuel drives me home from the party silently, the city of Cannes blurring through my car window. When the Renault pulls up to the Majestic, he turns off the car and turns back to me. This is it, I think. This is my moment to tell him how I feel. “I have something to tell you,” we say in unison. He looks embarrassed. “You go first,” I insist. Manuel takes a deep breath. “I must resign,” he says quietly. “You will have a new driver in the morning, Miss Blanchett. I am sorry.” I swallow my tears, then nod, a lump in my throat. “Of course,” I say, then get out of the car. Silly me. Before I shut the door, I bend down to meet his gaze. “Oh, and Manuel?” “Yes, Miss Blanchett?” he looks up. “Thank you.”
Caroline Tsai, 11:50 a.m.: “Miss?” The Wifi worker taps me on the shoulder. “The wifi room will be closing in 10 minutes.” I nod, finish the last sentence of my review, and start packing everything up obediently, downing the dregs of my fifth free can of blood orange Pellegrino. It tastes good, I decide as I exit the room, but nothing tastes as good as freedom.
—Staff writer Caroline A. Tsai can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @carolinetsai3.
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