My Neighbor Never Saw the End of the Film…

in 57th Cannes Film Festival

by Gérard Camy

Cannes, 8:30 am. The screening begins.

10:30am, only a few more minutes and the film will be over. My neighbor squirms, looks at his watch, stands up and leaves the dark auditorium. Very soon afterwards, more or less discreetly, other silhouettes abandon their seats and head for the exit. The folding seats snap upward, the doors swing open. And on the screen, the drama is resolved, the voyage is at its end, love triumphs, the action starts up again, and hope becomes dim.

What imperial obligation has transformed these silent spectactors into animated zombies? What unavoidable reason has obliged them to leave the darkened theater… and deprive themselves of the end of the cinematic adventure that they’d been following for almost two hours?

To avoid the crowd around the press mailboxes or get to the laptap computers available in the press room, or to be the first in line to get seats for the next film? To encounter a friend for a professional meeting who left another film ten minutes earlier?

Every minute counts in Cannes and each film screening has its share of early departures. A concert without the last movement, a painting without the final brushstroke, a play without the last line, our overly-hurried heroes will never know the amusing epilogue of Shrek 2, or the stinging one in Old Boy ; they’ll be persuaded that men can change in The Edukators, when the last brutal and disturbing images prove the contrary. They’ll never see the changes in expression of the real Alberto Granado, the dignified old man in Carnets de Voyage; as for the final credits, they’ll never read any of them. And if ever they doze off (the Cannes fatigue syndrome) for a few minutes during the screening, the obscure zones multiply, comprehension becomes uncertain.

These early exits are a specific sign of the festival’s hyperactivity but sometimes give way to certain capricious articles in the press that prove that the journalist obviously hadn’t seen the entire film… Fortunately, this phenomenon is limited to a few individuals per screening, which still doesn’t make it any less frequent or annoying.