Cold in July
My wife in heels, I had to run. Two Invitations—Place Réservées—to “Cold in July” were being kept in a blank envelope held by a man waiting outside the Théâtre Croisette, in Cannes. Perhaps it was the enchanting Cote d’Azur, the deep blue sea heard softly lapping, the liminal profiles glimpsed through tinted car windows, the reveries indulged of passersby straining to place our stardom, which had relaxed our stride. Nevertheless, we were late. As I bounded down the Promenade de la Croisette, scattering coteries of refinement, I recalled the last email from the man with the envelope: “Should be fine, look for me when you arrive and I will look for you!” Likely, he would see me first.
It was our first time at the Cannes Film Festival and, for that matter, at any film festival. I had inquired, complained, and generally made a fuss about my press credentials, which, due to hardly unforeseen circumstances (neglecting to submit an application), had never arrived. While being shuffled between accreditation staff, though, I was intercepted by a gregarious Aussie who introduced himself as a music producer and then divulged that, the night before, he had attended a party that was “not to be missed.” The party was hosted by Schweppes on a yacht, he said, running through precise directions. Lacking any navigational sensibility for the luxury yachts of Le Vieux Port, or any official documentation of my business being there, I could do little else but look begrudgingly. “Don’t worry,” he assured, with a wink. “Things have a way of working themselves out.”
We received warm greetings as we descended the red carpet: trois cent quatre, trois cent cinq. Inside the Théâtre Croisette, a wood-paneled aerie of eight hundred and twenty velvet seats nestled within the five-star JW Marriott, my wife and I unknowingly happened to sit next to Karen Lansdale, wife of Joe, author of “Cold in July.” (At the time, we took her to be merely a woman with a southern accent who was kindly watching the coat of an absent stranger.) Handsome ushers in black suits and red neckties were showing a regal couple to their seats—the woman in lapidary raiment adorned with a snowy white tunic and shimmering drop earrings, the man honey-tanned and sporting two thick slabs of leather-strapped wristwatch. (Trois cent six, trois cent sept.) This was not, evidently, the Cannes of the bundled-up man who slept in the pool of light in the bank lobby just off the Promenade and who, the previous night, had drawn a phalanx of Police Municipale and a rowdy dog. This was the Cannes of auteurs.
A spotlight bathed the stage to celebrate cast and crew, and applause filled the theatre. Jim Mickle appeared in a dark suit and sneakers with red laces. Reading “Cold in July” a few years ago was “terrifying, seductive, violent, emotionally-shaking,” he said. “I couldn’t get it out of my head.” Then he added, “And hopefully the film makes you guys feel the same way I did.”
Dorian Rolston is a freelance writer covering cognitive science and the arts.