(AP) Jacques Audiard praises B movies at Cannes
By JILL LAWLESS
Jacques Audiard is on a quest to revive the B movie.
The French director has won a prize at the Cannes Film Festival and been nominated for an Academy Award, but he has a passion for the colorful cut-price end of the cinema market: horror films and thrillers, melodramas and westerns.
Audiard said the original notion for his new feature “Rust and Bone” was to make “a B movie with a star” _ the star being France’s Marion Cotillard, whose best-actress Oscar for Edith Piaf biopic “La Vie En Rose” has spawned a Hollywood career.
It’s not a bad description. On one level, the film is an opposites-attract love story, set on the grittier side of the French Riviera, involving Cotillard’s haughty animal trainer and Matthias Schoenaerts’ down-and-out boxer. But the plot twists verge on melodrama. Early in the film Cotillard’s character has her legs bitten off by a killer whale, and Audiard also throws in brutal bare-knuckle fights, a child in peril and scenes scored to a pounding Katy Perry track.
It is, he admits, a risky approach.
The balance of gritty subject matter and cinematic flourish gives Audiard’s films a flavor unlike those of any other filmmaker.
His 2005 film “The Beat That My Heart Skipped,” about a man torn between crime and music, was a deft French update of the 1978 Harvey Keitel vehicle film “Fingers.” “A Prophet,” which won Cannes’ second-place Grand Prize in 2009, was a blend of tough prison drama and little-guy-makes-good story that was nominated for the foreign language Oscar.
Looking like a dapper academic with his trademark trilby hat and pipe, Audiard cited film fanatic’s range of influences _ from 1960s Brazilian director Glauber Rocha to 1950s thriller “The Night of the Hunter” and Tod Browning’s 1930s sideshow shocker “Freaks.”
Bidegain, who also worked on “A Prophet,” chimed in to call “Rust and Bone” “`Terms of Endearment’ meets `Freaks.'”
Audiard said the power of B movies _ from 1930s horror films to 1940s film noir thrillers _ is that they said something about the crisis-ridden world around them.
It’s an element he finds lacking in a lot of films now that the world is in crisis again.
Audiard said Cotillard was the obvious choice for the role.
Her star quality also gave the film an edge.
Audiard’s films can take years to go from conception to completion _ “Rust and Bone” was in the works for three years and was completed just days before its Cannes premiere. He says it’s too soon to talk about his next project.
But he has an idea.
Jill Lawless can be reached at: http://Twitter.com/JillLawless