A small room in the Intercontinental Hotel feels for a moment as far away from Toronto as possible. Marion Cotillard is sitting on the sofa, playing with the strap on her red sandals. She moves continually as she speaks, her lips apart as she gazes across the room, searching for an English word.
It’s odd being suddenly alone in a room with an Oscar-winning, Dior-modeling, international star. I start checking my audio recorder and writing more furiously than need be. She’s in the middle of a day of interviews for her new film, the French drama Rust and Bone by director Jacques Audiard, in which she plays a severely injured orca trainer (Marion Cotillard, killer-whale trainer, give it a minute) who falls for a brute of a man who fights illegal bare-knuckle bouts (Marion Cotillard, bare-knuckle fights, give it another minute).
Too much eye contact is also awkward. The fallback is always to be serious yet gracious, and glance toward the unspectacular downtown Toronto view, a stone covered rooftop and vents. Her thoughts quickly go elsewhere. She had last come to TIFF in 2010 with the 30-something comedy-drama Little White Lies, directed by husband Guillaume Canet, but only for a brief day or two. Her stopover in Toronto this time is just as fleeting, leaving the barest impression of Toronto, she indicates. The Cannes film festival for her was different.
“I have to say I didn’t think I would enjoy Cannes that much. But suddenly I was on the red carpet. And I thought, I’m in this festival, which is like one of the biggest festivals. So many people came here before with amazing movies, with masterpieces. All of those actors. It was a moment of joy that was really strong, and I didn’t expect it to be so strong.
“And it felt like it was the first time for me at Cannes. I had come to the festival many times before. I had climbed the [theatre] steps many times before. But it really felt like it was the first time, because it was the first time I went to Cannes with a movie in the official selection.
“And then going to an international festival with a French movie, I find it always very...” she pauses. “I mean, I’m really enjoying sharing French cinema.”
Her voice trails off. Marion Cotillard; dull Toronto hotel room. Yes, I found it hard to believe too.