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Cannes Do Better
July/August 2011


You'd think swanning off to France for the premiere of a film adapted from your own novel would give anybody a big head. On the contrary, my May visit to Cannes to see We Need to Talk About Kevin screen in competition was humbling, and I've felt put in my place ever since.

That place is somewhere between the second assistant cameraman and the catering staff. Even the invitation to bring the author over for a night was a last-minute afterthought, though I was thankful that my husband Jeff and I were included at all.  

After driving around for an hour and a half, the driver sent to pick us up from Nice airport admitted that he'd been given the wrong address for our hotel, and if I hadn't  thought to scribble down the address from the web we'd still be teeming back and forth along the Med.  

Getting ready for the pre-screening dinner, I learned once more that a lifelong tomboy isn't cut out for this stuff. I tried putting up my hair seven or eight times-after which, strands flailing, I looked less like a woman on her way to a gala evening than one en route to a police station to report a brutal sexual assault.  

I've never understood make-up, which I wear rarely, and once I'd daubed ineptly in the dim wardrobe mirror (while Jeff hogged the loo) my face resembled a preschool finger painting. While I was feverishly trying to adjust the circumference of the bow tie from Jeff's rental tuxedo, I smeared beige foundation on the bright white collar of my Alexander McQueen dress, a thing of beauty with which a charity-shop slob should never have been entrusted.

By 7pm, it was obvious that our 6.30pm festival car was not showing up. No one had provided me any contact details, so we hailed a taxi. Fortunately I'd jotted down the name of the villa where we were dining, or Jeff and I would have eaten mini-bar macadamias in front of CNN. When we arrived, a production staff member took one look at me and blanched. I was too grateful to feel embarrassed, and gladly took her up on the offer of onsite hair and make-up.

Look, meeting the cast was a kick. Tilda Swinton is unexpectedly warm, though she's scary; in heels, I come up to her waist.  Ezra Miller is a wiseass, sharp and wickedly charming, while John C. Reilly is solid, salt of the earth. The director and her husband, Lynne Ramsay and Rory Kinnear, have been unfailingly gracious, and I was touched how profoundly pleased they seemed that I think their film is terrific.

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Miguel Esteban
July 1st, 2011
3:07 AM
I was in Cannes and saw the film as well as a conference at the UK pavillion. I thought of your wonderful book every moment during the screening and found Ramsay's choices quite interesting. But nothing replaces the way you constructed your novel and the way you built up to the overwhelming reveal at the end. Bravo!

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