The Cannes Film Festival is back, sumptuous and maskless

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The application of this rule is quite another matter. Before the start of “Annette” – an esoteric musical with songs by the band Sparks – three quarters of moviegoers around me had removed their masks and the ushers just shrugged their shoulders. (There’s a reason the French gave us the expression “laissez-faire”.) After the film ended, as the standing ovation entered its fifth minute, Driver and his director, Leos Carax, took both lit cigarettes inside the theater.

Participants were then whisked away in crowded shuttles and transported to the opening dinner in Palm Beach, which began after midnight. Instead of the lively dance parties that typically end every evening in Cannes, the festival has encouraged a switch to dinners, which are conspicuously more dispersed, civilized and protected from Covid.

But in practice, all that up-close bum is still the same, even if it doesn’t happen on a dance floor. When I entered, Mirren was leaning over a bench to greet Gyllenhaal; later, Mirren and her husband, Taylor Hackford, collapsed next to Andie MacDowell. At a nearby table, Foster chatted in fluent French with a multitude of supporters, while Bong hugged his “Parasite” leader, Song Kang Ho, who is also on the Cannes jury this year.

Director Pedro Almodóvar spent most of the night in deep conversation with Chastain, although he and I talked long enough for Almodóvar to praise Driver’s engaged performance in “Annette” – “He always takes such risks! – and to promise that her next film, Penélope Cruz’s drama “Parallel Mothers”, would be released in the United States in December. “You’ll see him soon,” he said – but not at Cannes, where his latest film, “Pain and Glory”, premiered.

On the way back to the hotel, I stopped by the “Annette” after-party. Although Driver retreated after the film’s premiere (he flew to Cleveland to shoot Noah Baumbach’s “White Noise”), the room was full of drunken revelers anyway.

As they were screaming to the music and clinking glasses of champagne, I realized that while Gyllenhaal was still adjusting to the Cannes crush, a lot of people here didn’t need such a grace period. After a year and a half of Zoom and sweatpants, these movie professionals couldn’t wait to get back to the business of fun.


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