When Rémy Martin offered to send us to the Cannes Film Festival, the one of film world's most prestigious events, we jumped on it. A few days on the French Riviera, rubbing shoulders with actors and directors, all while sipping some of the world's best cognac? Yes, please!
What was it like to partake in this boundless excess of good food, good climate, good booze, and good movies? Well, friends, we're here to help you live vicariously through the internet.
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The French Riviera is as opulent and beautiful as you expect, which makes it the perfect backdrop for a high-class event featuring high-class drinks. Lunch on the beach is standard, with restaurants and pop-ups setting up tents across the white sand so you can stare out into the azure ocean while you down sushi or a tarte Tropézienne -- the decadent dessert made famous by French actress Brigitte Bardot.
But the main event for the festival is the red carpet, where actors, filmmakers, producers, and shmos like me get all dressed up in formal eveningwear to gawk at the crowds and photographers snapping photos as they gawk right back at us. Of course, there's the feeling of being out of place, when you consider all the names that have walked the same red carpet in years and decades past, people like Sofia Coppola and Quentin Tarantino, among scores and scores of others.
The moment passes faster than you expect, and eventually you're inside a huge theater, watching the red carpet on which you just entered as the real celebrities begin to appear.
That night, we were seeing director Roman Polanski's new film, Based on a True Story, starring his wife, Emmanuelle Seigner, and Eva Green. In typical Polanski fashion, it took what might have been a mundane story and turned it into a psychological thriller. While it started off slowly, the tightly wound performances of Seigner and Green made each passing moment more and more tense, culminating in a surprise ending that left the audience satisfied and, perhaps, a bit confused.
Polanski, of course, is now best known in America for having been convicted of raping a 13-year-old girl in the late '70s -- after hearing that the judge intended not to honor a plea deal Polanski and the victim's attorney made, he fled the country. Were he to return, he would be arrested, so he continues filmmaking in Europe, where (judging from the standing ovation he received) he's more accepted.
Dinner after the film was the real highlight, though; the French know better than almost anyone how to treat food and alcohol. The meal at the Majestic Hotel was predictably decadent, with wine and conversation flowing freely. After we'd finished, though, we were treated to Rémy Martin XO, and members of the family -- the brand is still in the family -- gave us a full explanation of the cognac's qualities, its tasting notes, its production, and the history behind cognac. Rémy Martin is older than America, so you can only imagine the depth of knowledge they've accumulated in their centuries of cognac production.
Of course, this kind of over-the-top luxury experience is only available to a very few lucky people, a fact of which I was keenly aware. For a short time, though, I put aside that awareness and enjoyed the night. And if I ever want to remember it, I can always buy another bottle of cognac.
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