Meryl crowned Queen of the Croisette

Honorary Palme for Hollywood royalty as Cannes crowds and first nighters go wild for Streep

by Richard Mowe

Meryl Streep with her Honorary Palme d'Or
Meryl Streep with her Honorary Palme d'Or Photo: Richard Mowe
The undoubted star turn at the opening of the 77th Cannes Film Festival was Hollywood royalty Queen of the Croisette Meryl Streep who received an honorary Palme d’Or as part of the opening ceremony.

Streep, 74, who has the kind of regal presence in a flowing ivory gown that commands attention, did her show her tremulous and emotional side - partly because Juliette Binoche, charged with bestowing the award, almost broke down in tears at being in the presence of Her Majesty or as she described her “an international treasure”.

“When I see you on the screen, I don’t see you …” gushed Binoche. “Where does it come from? Were you born like this? I don’t know, but there’s a believer in you, a believer that allows me to believe. You changed the way we look at cinema.” Meryl's performances from Kramer vs Kramer, Out Of Africa and Sophie’s Choice to Julie and Julia, and Mamma Mia were all evoked in a roll call of astonishing longevity.

What’s not to smile about? Meryl Streep feels the love from the Cannes crowds who braved the rain clouds at the opening of the Cannes Film Festival
What’s not to smile about? Meryl Streep feels the love from the Cannes crowds who braved the rain clouds at the opening of the Cannes Film Festival Photo: Richard Mowe
Streep calmly observed that this was the first time she had been back in Cannes for 35 years. On that occasion she starred in Australian director Fred Schepisi’s 1988 drama Evil Angels She admitted to emotion when she observed the clips of her career, describing it as “looking out the window of a bullet train, watching my youth fly into my middle age, right onto where I am standing on this stage tonight. So many faces, so many places that I remember.” With a final flourish she added: “I am just so grateful that you haven’t got sick of my face, and you haven’t gotten off that train.”

At the time she was last here she had just turned 40 and was a mother of three children. She had believed her career might be over. “That was not an unrealistic expectation for actresses at that time. And the only reason that I’m here tonight and that it continued is because of the very gifted artists with whom I’ve worked.”

One of them was jury president Greta Gerwig, who directed her in 2019’s Little Women and was sitting on stage watching adoringly as Streep went though her paces including an impromptu dance to the pulsating Abba beat of Mamma Mia as she prepared to ascend the red carpeted steps of the Palais des Festivals.

After the standing ovation inside subsided Streep recalled the words of her mother who “was always right”. She had said to her: “Darling, you’ll see, it all goes so fast.”

The opening film The Second Act almost seemed to take second place to Streep but it was a mercifully short as is the director Quentin Dupieux’s style, a moderately amusing caper about a movie within a movie and the clash of egos on set as the likes of Léa Seydoux, Vincent Lindon and Louis Garrel have infectious fun - and even deals with #MeToo in the industry, cancel culture as well as AI. And it has distinct echoes of François Truffaut’s treat from another era Day For Night which can’t be bad.

See more photos from the opening night in our gallery

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