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Report: Cannes Film Festival 2012

Whale training and the fight to get a life in Audiard's Rust and Bone

Festival de Cannes

The race for the Cannes Film Festival Golden Palm award is on. The first competitors hit the screen Thursday. De Rouille et d’Os is the work of French director Jacques Audiard.

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Rust and Bone in English is adapted by Audiard and Thomas Bidegain, from a novel by Craig Davidson, one of several screen adaptations this year at Cannes.

Cannes 2012

It stars Marion Cotillard, who incarnated Edith Piaf in La Môme, and has enjoyed a certain success internationally (Inception with Leonardo di Caprio, Public Enemies with Johnny Depp).

She plays a whale-trainer at a marine park who has a serious accident. Luckily, she meets a man who is a runaway-from-life, played by Matthias Schoenaerts, and who, as well as being father to a little boy, is a fighter. He helps her fight back and get a life.

The two-hour film is physical, full of pugnacity and tenacity and underworld dealings of people who are trying to get by, or, to get out of their milieu.

Rather like previous films by Audiard, the 2009 cannes Jury grand prizewinner, Un Prophète (A Prophet), also written with Bidegain, or De Battre mon coeur s’est arrêté (The Beat that My Heart Skipped), or Un Héros très Discret (A self-made Hero) back in 1996.

What attracted Cotillard to the role?

“What life does to them, where it takes them, and what they do with it when they finally recover their lives, completely… it’s so beautiful," she told RFI. "So whatever way you look at the film… I find every level touching. All that violence, that brutality, all that love, that poetry, is touching, I find.”

From the opening scene where the father and son are leaving Belgium, it has its tender moments, too.

Some scenes, like an unlikley close-up of a tarpaulin flapping on the side of a truck on the motorway in the night, lend the film an art-house touch.

With music by film-score master Alexandre Desplats, Audiard’s eighth feature film confirms him as a punchy French director with his feet on the ground.

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