Jacques Audiard • Director
by Fabien Lemercier
17/05/2012 - Flanked by his actors Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts, Jacques Audiard gives the international press a few clues to his sixth feature film, Rust & Bone [trailer, film focus], today unveiled in the competition at the 65th Cannes Film Festival.
Why did you choose to adapt Rust and Bone by Craig Davidson, and why did you invent Stéphanie and Ali's characters?
Jacques Audiard: My last film (A Prophet [trailer, film focus]) was set in a prison, a masculine environment, without light, space, or women. Thomas Bidegain (co-scriptwriter) and I decided we wanted a love story. I had already read and appreciated Craig Davidson's book for its literary qualities. Along the way, we thought: Why not put a love story in this universe of the downgraded? We worked on the text for a long time. Even if we invented new characters, Davidson's humour, colour, and atmosphere remained. The adaptation is not loyal word-for-word, but it is in its form.
Why entrust the lead roles to Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts?
Towards the end of writing, I very naturally thought of Marion. I had been stunned by what she did in La Vie en Rose [trailer]. As an actress, she's very masculine and very seductive at the same time. She has natural authority and is capable of passing through a wall, of throwing herself. For the male character, I initially thought about taking on an amateur and we started holding castings in boxing clubs. But it was too realistic. Then casting director Richard Rousseau showed me Bullhead [trailer, film focus], then not yet out in cinemas, and I discovered Matthias. Even I was surprised when I chose him because he doesn't correspond to my usual male criteria.
The film is about the violent force of nature. Where does your fascination for this theme and the strength of the physical come from?
These are characters from times of crisis, from a society that has become slightly barbaric, where people eat from the rubbish. There is nothing left to sell but bodies and violence. And the character played by Matthias has no words, he has physical strength. I have a problem with filming violence: I hate it, but I always come back to it. The plan was for it to be as realistic as possible, but not too gory, because the female character was watching it. She admires courage, but doesn't like violence that much.
The characters in your films are often on spiritual quests...
It's the basis of all dramatic art. From the screenplay, we already knew that characters would undergo great changes. The arrogant princess in the beginning of the film, who is incapable of abandoning herself, and therefore of loving, will experience love thanks to her accident. And he, who is embarrassed by his body and by words, will learn.
How did you prepare for shooting?
I knew we would have very little time, because both Marineland and Marion had tight schedules. Marion and I didn't see each other at all: We leapt straight into it. As for Matthias, he needed to prepare so we saw each other in Paris. But it's a film that had to go quickly, like its love story.
How did you manage the special effects?
I probably wouldn't have been able to make this film ten years ago because I would not have had the patience to wait for the special effects. Today, it's much simpler: You wear green stockings and then get rid of them in the lab. You can do special effects camera in hand, and be realistic. It's incredible: With the digital camera that we were using, there were no light modifications and special effects could be done really fast.
Do you feel apart in contemporary French cinema?
Not at all. I feel very much like a French film director. For French film-lovers, I am even a prototype, a species somewhat on the brink of extinction.