The Cannes Film Festival begins with a lack of drama | EW.com

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The Cannes Film Festival begins with a lack of drama

Alas, even Uma Thurman can't get the crowds to turn out

Uma Thurman

FRENCH MISS Thurman attended the Cannes opening of her film ''Vatel'' (Stephane Cardinale/Corbis Sygma)

The Cannes Film Festival is off and… crawling. There were no mobs to fight yesterday as Uma Thurman and Gérard Depardieu attended their premiere, ”Vatel,” which opened the festival. The Croisette, which usually induces unbridled road rage among pedestrians who actually need to get somewhere, rather than just stand in a crowd, was a fine place for a leisurely stroll.

With ”Vatel” being an evening affair (the press saw it early in the morning), and the American Pavilion still under construction, clearly there was nothing to do but eat and shop. ”You’re American, tell us,” one saleswoman asked, looking worried, ”where are you all? Aren’t you coming this year?”

Well, probably – but journalists and executives alike are seemingly in no hurry to get here. One film buyer who arrived yesterday scouted out the scene and then took today off and headed to St. Tropez. ”The problem this year is that anything that’s good has already been prebought by a studio,” he said.

One of the most anticipated films, Lars Van Trier’s ”Dancer in the Dark,” is Fine Line’s. And even Roland Joffe’s ”Vatel” was purchased the minute Miramax landed in France yesterday; while the studio had seen the movie last week, it apparently wanted to make a big splash by purchasing it here. No one was particularly impressed, especially since the movie, about a gifted chef, received mixed reviews. Even the president of the jury, Luc Besson, seems unable to rouse himself from a stupor of boredom, appearing at a press conference and photo shoots as if doing prison time.

The party scene, so far, isn’t relieving the quietness on the Croisette: Last night was the first shindig on the beach, celebrating Universal’s purchase of ReelShort.com, but it, too, was underwhelmingly attended. Still, people seem relieved to have a chance to take a breath – and get some sleep – before the weekend begins, the Croisette fills up, and the business of seeing films actually gets underway. And hey, with so much food waiting to be eaten and so many stores desperate for shoppers, one could certainly do worse than have some time to kill on the Cote D’Azur….