‘Rust and Bone’: Marion Cotillard solidifies front-runner status

(Terry Rice/Getty Images)

Following a Telluride tribute, Marion Cotillard arrived in Toronto on Thursday night for the festival premiere of French director Jacques Audiard’s “Rust and Bone,” a movie that wowed critics earlier this year at Cannes.

Without revealing more than what’s found in the trailer, Cotillard plays an orca whale trainer who, after losing her legs in an accident, begins an unlikely relationship with an unemployed bare-knuckle street brawler (Matthias Schoenaerts). Coming from the director of “A Prophet,” the French-language film’s melodrama and heightened emotions rate as something of a surprise, though hardly an unpleasant one. It’s a movie full of passion and blunt force and fabulous acting from both of its leads.

We caught up with both Cotillard and Schoenaerts briefly at a dinner held in the film’s honor in downtown Toronto. The most obvious question for the Oscar-winning actress: What was it like seeing yourself without legs?


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“Strange ... very strange,” she says. “It’s like it’s not me on screen; it’s someone else. And that’s very strong. It moved me.”

Coming on the heels of his strong work in last year’s Belgian drama “Bullhead,” Schoenaerts could be on the verge of crossing the Atlantic and becoming a star. Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips says his sensitive brute turn recalled Marlon Brandon, and we can’t disagree.

“It’s flattering, of course,” the cordial, smiling Schoenaerts says of the critical praise and Hollywood attention that included talks to star in the upcoming remake of “Robocop.” “I’m looking at opportunities but I want them to feel right.”

The Elgin Theatre premiere audience gave a hero’s reception to Toronto writer Craig Davidson or, as Audiard called him, “that young guy who shut himself up in a room, writing.” Davidson’s short stories served as a loose basis for the film. He saw it for the first time Thursday night.

“We’re thinking this is going to be really good for us,” Sony Pictures Classics co-president Michael Barker told us over dinner. “Unlike some French films, this one really should appeal to American audiences, and not just because of the Katy Perry song,” he adds, referring to the movie’s offbeat use of the pep-rally anthem “Fireworks.”

“Rust and Bone” opens in theaters Nov. 16.


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