Inside TIFF 2013: Swift Ring Exchanges and Photo Booth Reunions

Taylor Swift isn’t boy crazy, she’s chemistry crazy. Like a mad professor experimenting with human pheromones, Swift leans into Australian newcomer Brenton Thwaites and makes him positively blush. Move over Harry Styles and Conor Kennedy—is this the very first spark of a new couple alert? I came to Grey Goose Soho House tonight to toast the Weinstein Company’s much-buzzed August: Osage County, starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. But by 11 p.m., I find myself hypnotized at the sight of these two fresh-faced young stars (she’s 23; he’s 24), hitting it off as if there’s no one else in the room.

Swift doesn’t so much flirt—it’s more like she sets the other person on fire. When she actually makes eye contact, it’s like locking eyes with a feral arctic fox. Sheer magnetism. With sly, coquettish body language, she draws Thwaites closer by speaking in hushed tones. They inch closer and closer together, and at one point, show one another their rings—she’s wearing three, he’s sporting one. I’m sitting strategically behind Thwaites, roughly a foot from his back—and as everyone’s drawn to Roberts’ iPhone show-and-tell of pictures of her twins—I spot him slip off his silver ring and offer it to Swift to try on. She discreetly gives it a go and whispers something in his ear. Charmingly, it’s one of those silver teaspoon handles repurposed into a ring—the kind you find in dorm rooms across America. There must be a good story behind it; because as he elaborates, Swift’s eyes widen in delight, examining the band even more closely. His charms pull off a major coup, considering this is the first time he’s even met pop music’s most idolized female crooner.

Despite Streep not making it to Toronto due to illness, the cast carried the torch, peppering the lively party in high spirits—Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis, Dermot Mulroney, Abigail Breslin, Chris Cooper, and Julianne Nicholson. At one point, I escape to Soho House’s typically sedate third floor to review my notes, happy to find it completely empty save for two bartenders polishing glassware. As I scroll down my phone, in stumbles Julia, Ewan, Julianne, and Dermot, all giggling hysterically from a stint inside this floor’s main attraction—a vintage-style photo booth, complete with velvet curtains. Julianne shows me her strip of shots and I gasp at her gem: Julia’s trademark half-smile half-laugh captured in all its glory.

At this point, despite my mounting fatigue, it’s pretty much mandatory I linger to see if Swift and Thwaites (sounds like a posh law firm, no?) exit together. They don’t, but around 2 a.m., she collects her clutch and gives him an affectionate, playful embrace before her security detail ushers her down the staff stairwell.

What happens next is right out of a Judd Apatow rom-com. Thwaites suddenly slouches in the booth, completely spent after four solid hours of being “switched on” for Swift. It’s as if he’s just auditioned for Harvey Weinstein and Taylor Swift simultaneously—talk about a tall order. He chugs a pint of Evian straight from the bottle, as much for therapy as for thirst—as if he knows this night will change the course of his life. Being on his best behaviour must have paid off, as at around midnight, I caught Weinstein’s parting words to the pair, “See you in South Africa, if not before…” I suppose we’ll soon find out which of the two this remark was directed at.

Across town, at the InStyle and Hollywood Foreign Press Association party hosted by Salvatore Ferragamo, the stars were out in full force, catching up under a botanical canopy. In the most striking event designs of the week, the Windsor Arms courtyard doubles as an orchid conservatory—a towering collection of glass columns filled with crimson Aranthera orchids and floating lights.

I spot my current TIFF crush, The Fifth Estate star Dan Stevens chatting to Rush leading man Daniel Brühl. Stevens looks positively Downton Abbey in a modern twist on the tweed suit, which kinds of sends me over the lovelorn edge. They’re busy swooning over Boardwalk Empire’s Jack Huston, here to promote his spirited turn as Jack Kerouac in Kill Your Darlings. Bonafide Hollywood royalty, the dynastic heir is certainly channeling his grandfather’s debonair graces tonight. No one held court in Tinseltown quite like legendary director John Huston.

On my way out, I bump into the luminous Emily Hampshire, star of All the Wrong Reasons, Cory Monteith’s final film. As we’ve been friends for a few years, I know she’s been known to slouch from time to time, but not tonight. She’s standing stiff as a snowboard, wearing a daringly divine Salvatore Ferragamo frock. She immediately confides with an exuberant flush, “It’s a totally split front—I have to stand ballerina-style, or else, whoops!”

Earlier in the evening, Hudson’s Bay and Grey Goose put on a sumptuous private dinner for the cast of The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby at the Chase. At this most civilized affair, Jessica Chastain is able to relax and reunite with Unison Films’ Emanuel Michael and Cassandra Kulukundis, the producing duo behind this extraordinary film starring James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Viola Davis, and William Hurt. The tightly curated guest list gives the party a rarified air, as the Bay’s Suzanne Timmins and Nicholas Mellamphy preside over eight tables of filmmakers mingling with fashionistas. Notable guests include director Ned Benson, co-stars Katherine Waterston, Ryan Eggold, Jeremy Strong, Jess Weixler, Game of ThronesCiarán Hinds, Twitter Canada chief Kirstine Stewart, and actor husband Zaib Shaikh (star of Midnight’s Children).