The tough-love melodrama Rust and Bone swept through New York last night with more fanfare than the average foreign film generates, for a few reasons. It comes courtesy of red-hot director Jacques Audiard. The success of The Artist at last year's Oscars has everyone primed for the next big French film. And, most significant of all, it stars Marion Cotillard.
The French actress has fans everywhere, including at Dior and Vanity Fair, both of which sponsored an advance screening at the Lower East Side's Landmark Sunshine Cinema. Cotillard plays a whale trainer in the movie, one whose relationship with a volatile ex-boxer (Matthias Schoenaerts) takes a significant turn after she suffers a devastating accident in the water.
Cotillard took swimming lessons for the role. "I was a very bad swimmer—not so bad. I mean, I could swim. But not like an orca trainer," she explained, adding a semantic point: "I don't like that [in English] we call them killer whales. They're orcas. I mean, we kill, but we don't call ourselves killer men or killer women."
There is, of course, the species known as femme fatale—just not in this film, which is more about emotional connections between mammals of land and sea. Bruce Weber knows it. "I've swum with dolphins, sure," he said on his way into the screening. "You have to get acquainted with them first. The way you touch them is really important, so they get a feeling about you. I think it's like that with any animal—any person, really."
Surely a few guests put that concept to the test at the after-party at Indochine. Not Cotillard, though. She had to fly back to France that night.