Never Let Me Gala

Thursday October 14th 2010

After months of anticipation, the London Film Festival officially launched last night with the European premiere of Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go. I was there, in a loose approximation of ‘black tie’, and seated so far up in the circle that an oxygen tank might have been more useful than the complimentary water that awaited me on my seat.

The photo above is the only decent one I took all night, so from here on out I’ll be illustrating the night with hand-drawn cartoons.

There was a severe lack of people asking for my autograph as I walked down the red carpet. Maybe it would have been different if I’d been wearing my passes and reminding them about that time I was in The Guardian.

I was in Row P in the circle. It’s very far up and the screen looks a bit like a pocket television from there, but on the plus side I ended up with three seats because the pair to my right stayed empty. That’s three bottles of complimentary water!

After hours upon hours of waiting (accompanied by some painful red carpet interviews with Edith Bowman), the cast and crew finally appeared on stage to introduce the movie. I’m please to report that, even from a great distance, Garfield oozes cool.

The movie itself is pretty good. Not properly amazing, like Twiglets or Diet Coke or something, but solid. The performances (with the possible exception of Carey Mulligan) are uniformly great and Romanek’s direction holds to whole thing together right up until the last act, where it begins to fall apart a bit.

As ever, bonus points are awarded for beautiful opening titles.

After the film, those of us lucky enough (or in my case, not ashamed to beg) to be invited to the gala party were ushered onto coaches and shipped off to the Saatchi Gallery.

Inside were free drinks, a few canapes and a variety of slightly familiar people. At one point I came into close contact with Hebron herself (she’s much shorter in person) but I quickly passed out from the excitement and had to be evacuated from the area.

The real party was happening in the VIP area, which was hidden behind a large man and a white sheet. I tried the old “Julie’s in there, she said to meet her in there” trick, but he wasn’t buying it.

As a result, I neither met nor began a passionate love affair with Keira Knightley.

At the stroke of midnight, the party ended. And when I say it ended, IT ENDED. We were immediately forced towards the doors, away from the gallery and into the street, barely grasping the (frankly unimpressive) goody bag before the mass exodus began. It was like a teenage house party raided by the police, except everyone was dressed smartly and 80% of them were in their sixties.

Next thing I knew, I was on a bus. It had been a night of mixed blessings, but there was no doubt that the London Film Festival was well and truly ‘in swing’. Now to prepare for two weeks of queueing in the Vue West End.