Cannes John Bleasdale

Cannes 2012: ‘Rust and Bone’ preview

Swelling the ranks of the French directorial presence at the 65th Cannes Film Festival, Jacques Audiard returns this year with Rust and Bone (De Rouille et d’Os, 2012), his follow-up the triumphant prison drama A Prophet (Un Prophète) – which picked up the Jury Prize in 2009 along with a host of other awards, nominations and critical accolades. His new film stars Marion Cotillard as orca trainer Stéphanie and Matthias Schoenaerts as the young, unemployed Ali, who subsequently falls in love with her.

Rust and Bone is based on a collection of short stories by Canadian writer Craig Davidson, praised by the likes of Chuck Palahniuk and compared to Ernest Hemingway in his exploration of the demi-monde of drug addicts, dog fights and hard-boiled life. Schoenaerts’ Ali is a down-on-his-luck boxer who resorts to the brutal, illegal world of bare knuckle fighting to earn something like a living. Following a move to the south of France, Ali meets Stéphanie and a romance of sorts blossoms.

However, after Stéphanie loses her legs following an accident, their fledgling relationship is put to the test. Will Ali abandon Stéphanie to her fate or will he – with his intimate knowledge of loss and suffering – help in some way to revive her and give her new purpose to her life?

Audiard’s latest boasts two of France’s leading screen actors, and although Cotillard is unarguably the most recognisable of the pair following her Oscar-winning performance in La Vie En Rose (2007) and subsequent appearances in Inception (2011) and Contagion (2011), Schoenaerts’ impressive performance in Belgian agricultural thriller Bullhead (2011) has marked him out as one to watch.

An ex-teacher with a family background in cinema, Audiard has been writing films since the seventies and directing since his 1994 debut See How They Fall. His subsequent films A Self-Made Hero (1996) and The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005) have gone someway to cementing his reputation as an award-winning director. Despite inevitable comparisons to the towering A Prophet, Rust and Bone promises to be a supremely powerful drama, directed by one of the most accomplished talents in contemporary French cinema.

John Bleasdale

The 65th Cannes Film Festival takes place from 16-27 May, 2012. For more of our Cannes 2012 coverage, simply follow this link.