Among the major European auteur titles being bandied about in the speculation as to the Cannes lineup, Jacques Audiard's "Rust and Bone" is surely among the most impatiently awaited, not least because it pairs him with his biggest star lead yet: Marion Cotillard, who seems to be balancing the twin pulls of Hollywood and her home industry with impressive ease.

A black mark against the film's Cannes possibilities, however, is its French release date of May 17: the second official day of the festival, but the first of regular programming after Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" officially cuts the ribbon on proceedings the day before. Can a film premiere at Cannes the same day it opens in France? It seems unlikely -- surely it'd have to premiere locally in advance. If the film isn't festival-bound, however, expect a lot of international critics cramming into the public cinemas on the Croisette to take a look at the latest from the director of "A Prophet" and "The Beat That My Heart Skipped."

A subtitle-free French trailer for the film landed on the web today, and while I've resisted taking a look myself, it seems to have caught some observers off guard. Audiard has of late been working in an expansively hard-boiled mode, and the news that he was adapting Canadian author's Craig Davidson's short story collection "Rust and Bone" (it's unclear yet whether he and regular co-writer Thomas Bidegain have adapted one story, or spliced several) seemed to fit that groove: Davidson's tough, terse prose centers on down-and-out gamblers and fighters on society's fringes.

Audiard's film, however, looks to be a slightly more lyrical beast, starring Cotillard in a role gender-switched from the source material, as a sea-park orca trainer who loses both legs in a work-related accident. Matthias Schoenaerts, the hulking Belgian actor who so impressed with his presence in this year's foreign Oscar nominee "Bullhead," plays a love interest of sorts; frankly, I don't care to know much more, though I gather the trailer is enigmatic even to French speakers, and that it suggests the brooding romantic in Audiard, mostly on leave for "A Prophet" is back here.

Whatever it is, I can't wait. Sony Pictures Classics, of course, already have the US rights to this one -- I imagine it'll be a late-year deal. Take a gander at the trailer below, and tell us what you think.

 For more views on movies, awards season and other pursuits, follow @GuyLodge on Twitter.

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