on 1 Jan, 1970
from Dior Mag / by Jean-Pierre Lavoignat
She was indisputably one of the biggest stars of the 65th Cannes Film Festival. And in any case she delivered – regardless of what the jury led by director Nanni Moretti may decide – one of the strongest, most moving, most memorable performances of the competition. Precisely because it isn’t a performance – it’s a manifestation. In Rust and Bone, the much-acclaimed, remarkable new film directed by Jacques Audiard, Marion Cotillard does not play the role of Stephanie, a killer whale trainer who has lost her legs at Marineland in Antibes, who rediscovers the will to live thanks to a boxer who has also taken a beating from life. She is Stephanie, as simply and naturally as she breathes. Not once does the mind wander toward the challenges she faced as an actress. Never does one feel the weight of what she has accomplished. When the camera descends from her soulful face to the metallic prostheses that serve as her legs, one even forgets special effects. We only see a young woman with a hesitant, lurching stride, a melancholy air and a raspy voice who, suddenly, awakens to life, to feelings, to sensuality, to emotion.
Cotillard’s strength resides precisely in her capacity to embody more than perform. What was so beautiful and moving in La Môme (which was released as La Vie en Rose in English-speaking markets), and which made Olivier Dahan’s film so successful and won Cotillard, among other awards, the Oscar for Best Actress, is that under all the heavy artifice of makeup one could feel the hammering of a heart, a burning flame. It wasn’t a physical resemblance to Edith Piaf that so moved audiences, but the inner fire that consumed the woman who sang The Hymn to Love. The same goes for Rust and Bone, even though the two worlds are light years apart. Here, there is no artifice, no makeup. Bare face, bare soul. No pathos, no screaming, no tears – or few. But there’s such a jostle of complex and contradictory feelings and emotions that come across subtly, profoundly, in a vacant stare, an inflection, a half-smile, in the faintest of gestures. Like a hurricane that might sweep away everything in its path without making the slightest sound.
After La Môme, perhaps in an effort to gently distance herself from such a strong character, Cotillard played a series of supporting roles in American films, with the exception of the French film Petits Mouchoirs, which was directed by her life partner Guillaume Canet. She thus allowed herself the luxury of working with much-admired directors (Michael Mann, Christopher Nolan, Woody Allen and Steven Soderbergh among them) and A-list co-stars (such as Johnny Depp, Daniel Day Lewis and Leonardo DiCaprio) and consolidating her unique status in the movie industry. Now, she’s once again on the front lines. And in a beautiful way. Here, at age 36, is an actress at the height of her art. And such is her curiosity about the cinema, about human beings and the feelings that drive them, we can be certain that she still has surprises in store, that she hasn’t yet revealed all her secrets.
De rouille et d’os
The Palais des Festivals in Cannes, May 17th at 9:30 pm. A dizzying thunder of applause breaks out as the lights go up in the Grand Théâtre Lumière. And it doesn’t stop… Amid the fervent applause, the audience’s faces are illuminated by joy and overwhelmed by emotion. In presenting Rust and Bone on the second day of the competition, director Jacques Audiard set the bar high. From that moment on, all the films in competition throughout the 12-day festival would be measured against this strange, profound film, which is at once dry and lyrical, violent and tender, dark and sensual. Three years after presenting A Prophet, which won the Grand Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, director Jacques Audiard had struck again.
Audiard has had a curious career. The son of screenwriter Michel Audiard, a cult figure in the French cinema, he also started his career as a screenwriter before moving behind the camera, in 1994, with the thriller Regarde les hommes tomber (See How They Fall). He was 42 years old, which is late for a first film. Since then, he has only directed five films. Six films in 18 years aren’t many. However, it was enough to establish him as one of the most interesting French filmmakers working today – as well as one of the finest. His work is populated by wounded men, luminous women, troubling fathers, fragile sons and characters who have been battered by life yet somehow find the means to invent a new one. Rust and Bone, a very loose adaptation of two novels by the Canadian author Craig Davidson, is no exception. By putting together two characters who never should have met – a killer whale trainer who, after a work-related accident, finds herself a double amputee, and a boxer with a young son who, in order to make ends meet, takes part in illegal, bare-knuckle fights – he tells a story of resurrection. Under his direction, the film is inhabited, inspired, an astonishing mix of acuity and invention, of realism and sophistication. Once again, he puts together fledgling actors and confirmed talents, thus offering Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts – who turns in a powerful yet nuanced and delicate performance – the opportunity to break out after his acclaimed début in the astonishing Bullhead, and Marion Cotillard a major new role in her singular career, five years after her Hollywood consecration with the Oscar for Best Actress, for La Môme (aka La Vie en Rose). Once again, he lays emotions bare and exposes raw sentiment with the cool efficiency of a surgeon and the mysterious profundity of a poet. This film is all the more captivating because it touches, almost without seeming to, the very essence of life.
The True Face of a Lady
MODERN CINEMA ICON MARION COTILLARD IS ALSO THE GLAMOROUS FACE OF THE LADY DIOR HANDBAG.
In 2009, she played Billie Frechette alongside Johnny Depp in Public Enemies; she was also a Hitchcockian heroine in Lady Noire Affair, a short film by Olivier Dahan, the director who had triumphed with La Môme (La Vie en Rose) two years earlier. In 2010, Christopher Nolan’s Inception found her sharing top billing with Leonardo DiCaprio and Michael Caine; that same year, she continued the Dior saga in Lady Blue Shanghai, this time with David Lynch behind the camera. In 2011, the year she played Adriana in the Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris, John Cameron Mitchell presented Lady Grey London, the third installment of the short film opus. Finally, this year Marion Cotillard triumphed at Cannes and in theaters with Rust and Bone, and generated major buzz on the Internet with the final sequence in her Dior adventure, L.A.dy Dior, which takes place during a photo shoot in Los Angeles, once again under the direction of John Cameron Mitchell.
As the face of Lady Dior, Cotillard for the past three years has been the heroine of a grand saga in which the house’s iconic handbag truly becomes a character in a film – and even the crux of the plot in a series of episodes that make up so many chapters in the broader story of Lady Dior.
Before her, one recalls, there was Marlene Dietrich, the couturier’s great friend, who lent her name to a campaign for Christian Dior stockings. Then came Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, the godmother at the launch of the Baby Dior line. Not to mention Monica Bellucci, Isabelle Adjani, Natalie Portman and Charlize Theron, among many others…