The French Film Prom
Dancing Rabbis, a man massaging a phallic-shaped statue, Gerard Depardieu, sex, drugs, tears and …the credits roll. This may sound like the script for a bizarre French movie, and fittingly so. Last Saturday night, the crème-de-la-crème of the French film world stormed the Bastille – sorry, stormed the Chatelet theater – for a night of glitz, glamour, red carpets and funny-looking hors d’oeuvres stuffed with strange animal parts. My night at the French Oscars, Mesdames et Messieurs…
It all began at my humble abode at **, rue S6%DD^G^^^ Paris, 7500% (I neglect to mention my real address to avoid the papa razzi obviously).
My hair was done up and hairsprayed to resemble a large piece of concrete (thank you, personal French hairstylist Olivier), my makeup perfectly applied (thank you, personal Italian makeup artist Chiara), my dress zipped tightly (thank you, French cuisine), my nails impeccably manicured and pedicured (thank you Artistic Nail, rue Cherche Midi 75006) and my accessories in place (Valentino shoes, Etername earrings worth half a year of rent, Swarovski bag and ring on my left hand and…cute French actor on my right.) I felt like Cinderella at the ball. I was waiting for my taxi to turn into a pumpkin and for prince charming to – oh who are we kidding, I’m in France, Prince Charming doesn’t live in these parts haven’t we already established that?
I arrived at the Theatre du Chatelet, pumpkinless, princeless, but ready to roll. Thanks to a timely rain and wind storm, my 200-euro hairstyle was turned to a mushy pile of bobby pins and molten concrete by the time I reached the door, but I didn’t let that stop me. I checked my coat, and we walked up the red carpet staircase to a pre-show cocktail complete with industry execs, French movie stars and…Jude Law’s pointed shoulder blade which brushed mine as he headed to the bar. Sienna, Schmienna, he was so having eye sex with me. Too bad he’s way too short. You can have him, Sienny-poo.
I schmoozed with everyone in the room (ok not EVERYONE, perhaps I missed a few heads while they were in the bathroom, but I think I pretty much attacked 98% of the French population), then sat down, relaxed (ha just kidding, just wanted to see if you were still paying attention) and enjoyed the show. I won’t recount the almost 3-hour ceremony, but here are some highlights:
1) Valerie Lemercier, host of the program. In an Ellen Degeneres-like coup, Lemercier made the almost 3-hour ceremony fly like a Frenchman on a motorbike with her subtle wit, dancing interludes and wonderful ability to make the whole room feel like they were at dinner with friends, not the most glamorous awards ceremony in the country. One day she’s responding to my questions for Studio magazine (November issue, 2005, holla!) and the next she’s the queen of the Cesars. Way to go, Val.
2) Guillaume Canet winning Best Director for “Tell No One.” He neglected to thank the love of his life, Rebecca Lynn Leffler, but I think he’s just shy. But, way to go, Guy. We can celebrate anytime you like ;)
3) The award for best foreign film. Hilary Swank presented, saying “Sorry I don’t speak French” then, channeling a frigid ice statue, read from the teleprompter in English, stuttering over every word. “Little Miss Sunshine” won, and Thierry Lacaze of Fox Searchlight accepted the award. Suddenly, the entire room erupted into laughter. Turns out our poor Thierry was a little nervous and was stroking the Cesar statue (which resembles, well, you know) up and down and the audience had a field day. The show’s host Valerie Lemercier went up to him in front of everyone, turned the statue on its side and explained to him just why everyone was laughing. The guy looked like tomato soup on fire. Swank, meanwhile, just stood there completely clueless as to what was going on. Fantastic moment.
4) The Gerard Oury tribute. It was sort of like an episode of Grey’s Anatomy – I cried for most of it, but got a few giggles in here and there. Oury was one of France’s best directors in my opinion, famous for “La Grande Vadrouille,” “The Brain” and “The Adventures of Rabbi Jacob” among others. Oury’s daughter, prolific Gallic director Daniele Thompson, and grandson actor/screenwriter Christophe Thompson were present and the entire room joined them to remember Oury. Then, after the montage of clips from Oury’s films, Valerie Lemercier stormed the stage dressed as an orthodox Jew with around 20 other dancers wearing paises and top hats and dancing to the theme song from “Rabbi Jacob.” Only in France, I thought to myself, Only in France.
5) Pascale Ferran’s really really really really long politically-charged speech when she accepted the award for “Lady Chatterley.” Just kidding, that was extremely boring. I wanted to hurl myself off of the balcony. (I probably should’ve, I would’ve landed right in Jude Law’s lap!)
After the show, we took a bus to the official after-party at the Galerie Royale. It was sort of like going to camp, only everyone was wearing dresses and tuxedos and no one was wearing headgear or stuffing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches into their mouths. The after-party was mildly fun – the food (read: miniscule portions of je ne sais quoi) wasn’t bad – well, at midnight on an empty stomach it did the trick. However, there was – GASP! – NO CHAMPAGNE. The soirée was sponsored by Chivas whisky and, while there was some white wine present to tickle my tongue….needless to say, I didn’t stay long and headed over to the REAL after-party at Regine’s. I wasn’t actually invited to this party, but I made my way in anyway (see: the history of the life of Rebecca Leffler).
All of “Young Frenchiewood” was there – they’re sort of like what Americans call “Young Hollywood” the Lindsay Lohan-Paris Hilton-Mischa Barton-Olsen Twin crew of young actors (only in France they actually are actors) who are in every film and all know each other and are probably related in some way by a distant French cousin since everyone in the French film industry seems to be either the daughter of, son of or brother-sister-aunt-dog of someone else. And then there’s me. The crazy American drinking out of the Magnum bottle of Champagne and talking to everyone in sight. Or not in sight – I have long legs, I can jump over tables to get to an A-list actor if need be. Everyone was there – Guillaume Canet (which means, in French “my future French husband”), Jean DuJardin (the French James Bond) and his amour Alexandra Lamy, Gilles Lellouche, Best female newcomer winner Melanie Laurent and her amour Julien Bosselier, Audrey Tautou, Alice Taglioni… and the list goes on, but since I don’t care about fame or gossip clearly I’ll stop there ;)
I didn’t want the night to end – I’d spent my whole life, or at least the last few years, passionate about French cinema and always dreamed of attending the Cesar awards. And there I was. In Valentino shoes nonetheless. And, despite the fact that it felt like someone was stcking large glass knives into my feet, I was determined to keep them on until I left at around 7 am. But Saturday night near the Champs and, with not a taxi to be found and my feet screaming in agony, I allowed myself to be convinced by a random French guy outside that I should enter his vehicle and join him and his friends for an after party at their hotel room at the Place Vendome. I swear it’s not THAT sketchy, I recognized this actress from a bunch of films so I felt like I knew her even though I clearly didn’t (the magic of the movies) I figured she couldn’t be a serial killer and followed her into the car. Then, five minutes into it, I remember that the last time I’d seen her on the big screen she played a nice girl who, a few minutes into the film, turns into a serial killer. Yup, way to go, Leffler.
At 8 am, I made my way to a taxi and headed home. I think we passed Cloud 9 on the way across the Seine because that’s where I’ve been for the past few days since. It was just like the Oscars only everyone spoke French and Clint Eastwood wasn't there - no wait, here he is!
(taken last week at his private party at the Ritz -- come on, you knew I'd get that in here somehow ;)
Someone told me he thinks the Cesar award looks like pieces of chewed gum stacked on top of each other. To me, however, it looks like my dreams coming true. Cue the cheesy music and a close-up of the Eiffel Tower.