My Cannes Is Better Than Her Cannes: Do Movie Critics Have More Fun?

A few days ago I checked one of the fashion blogs I occasionally visit and noticed that the French fashion photographer and blogger Garance Doré was here in Cannes, shooting a portfolio for French jeweler Chopard, a sponsor of the festival. Her first post details how, when she first arrived, she told her chauffeur as he drove her down the Croisette, "I hate the show business, the evening gowns, and red carpets. Seriously now... That's why I thought I'd never set foot again at the Festival de Cannes." He responded, "I'm sorry mademoiselle, that just won't do. You just have to jump in and live it, or else I'll have to take you right back to the airport. Cannes is amazing, and you gotta love it all: the sun, the crazies, the films, the stars, the weirdos and the soirées."

He was right about all of it. In her first and subsequent posts from Cannes, Doré (above) detailed how she came to embrace Cannes, especially since Chopard decided she should "live the Cannes experience full on" -- an experience that began, well, with sending a chauffeur to pick her up. But do you need a chauffeur, and the sponsorship of a mondo joaillier, to do the Festival de Cannes right? As the event winds down -- I'm here through Sunday night, and today I notice the Palais and the Croisette are far less clogged with people -- I've had some time to reflect on my own full-on Cannes experience. Here's how it stacks up against Doré's:

Doré's reason for coming to Cannes: To shoot gorgeous models draped in costly jewels for Chopard.

Zacharek's reason for coming to Cannes: To see Melancholia, of course! As well as The Tree of Life, The Skin I Live In, Le Havre and lots more.

Doré's hotel: A room, maybe a suite, probably at the Martinez or the Carlton.

Zacharek's hotel: Nun's cell in small B&B type hotel on Rue Bivouac Napoléon. Pros: Clean, close to Palais, friendly staff. Cons: No desk or table in room, has made filing stories slightly challenging. (Laptop gets very hot when used on actual lap.) But nearly every film critic I know here is on an extremely tight budget, so I'm hardly alone.

Doré lunch and dinner: Probably something spectacular, if it's on Chopard's dime.

Zacharek lunch and dinner: Lunch is nuts, fruit and biscuits (a.k.a. "squirrel food") consumed in nun's cell with burning-hot laptop in lap. Dinner is a quick -- by Cannes standards -- meal of crepes and rosé with a friend. Bill comes to just €13 (around 19 bucks). But wow, does it taste good after squirrel-food lunch!

Doré's red-carpet experience: Seeing The Beaver.

Zacharek's red-carpet experience: Having a brief pidgin-French conversation with an octogenarian onlooker wearing pristine vintage Ultrasuede.

Doré's evening hairdo: Updo with lots of bobbypins.

Zacharek's evening hairdo: Two or three puffs of dry shampoo plus hair elastic. No time to wash hair.

Doré's evening outfit: A gown, of course.

Zacharek's evening outfit: I brought a metallic belt, because you never know.

Doré's celebrity sighting: Matthew Fox, of Lost.

Zacharek's celebrity sighting: The willowy and adorable Mia Wasikowska, at a dinner for Gus Van Sant's Restless. Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Antonio Banderas at press conferences. Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz going into a press conference. Beyond that -- does Jeffrey Wells' hair count?

Doré's mastery of French: Great, of course! She's a native.

Zacharek's mastery of French: Lousy. I should have learned the introductory phrase "I have come to your country to mangle your language" before I got here. But if I get to return next year, I've vowed to come armed with at least schoolgirl French. Regardless, the natives have been lovely, particularly the women: One morning a young server at one of the cafés near my hotel alerted me with discreet urgency that I hadn't completely blended my maquillage (owing to dim lighting in nun's cell -- see above). This is one of those decent and kind little things that women all over the world do for each other, if they're nice.

The upshot: Cannes has won me over, as it did Doré, though for me it really comes down to the movies. I've had an amazing first time here. The wrap-up, and the end, arrives tomorrow. Meanwhile, I savor my last day.

[Photo: Getty Images]


  • j'accuse! says:

    Stephanie, I defo think you got the better end of the deal. You had to forge your own way, write your own schedule, and I rather enjoy France from the more humble end of the spectrum gastronomically speaking. Never done Cannes, but I know I've never had more fun getting lost than getting lost in Arles, and that's when you encounter cool things/people. My place had a desk, but it was tiny, and that was cool because it meant I spent almost every waking moment out exploring and meeting people and being awesome. Wicked good write-ups on the fest, hope they send you next year.

  • J'accuse! says:

    Damn. A thousand apologies for the Stephenie instead of Stephanie thing. It's been one of those evenings.

  • Merci, Monsieur or Madame "j'accuse!" -- I sure did get the better end of the deal. I wouldn't have done a thing differently, except arm myself with better French. Well, next time. But I've loved every minute, not to mention that I've seen some terrific movies.

  • Gilgamesh37 says:

    I'll echo the sentiment--your coverage of the movies has been, as I would expect, incisive, elegant, and witty. But your shorter pieces on the festival itself were a delightful surprise. I hope Movieline realizes what they have in you and treat you well.