"Rust & Bone" French poster
"Rust & Bone" French poster

Ali, a semi-homeless fighter and father to a young boy, offers Stéphanie no pity. Their relationship develops with few words and without much awareness from Ali, but their bond draws strength from the pain which they like to ignore. Stéphanie is attracted to the physical brutality of Ali's life, his fighting. "All this violence that is turned into power--this is something that she experiences inside herself," Cotillard says, "that's how she feels the very strong connection with him."

One of Cotillard's favorite scenes shows Ali losing a fight-- until Stéphanie gets out of the van where she's been watching him. As she moves towards him, with an unwavering look in her eye, he erupts with an unstoppable need to win. "This is the scene where the connection between the two of them is the strongest," she says. "There's this energy that flows between them. You don't need words anymore."

What Audiard does, so much of it without words, is give a shot of adrenaline to visual storytelling. "Rust and Bone" was shot by Audiard's "A Prophet" cinematographer, Stéphane Fontaine. The clip below is one of many favorites that Schoenaerts and I discuss in our interview.

The script, which Audiard co-wrote with Thomas Bidegain ("A Prophet"), was inspired by two of Craig Davidson's collection of short stories, also titled "Rust and Bone."

AFI Fest screened "Rust and Bone" on November 5 with a tribute to Cotillard, who was also tributed at Telluride.