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Aug 25, 2013

Review: Rust and Bone (2012)

           Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts, Armand Verdure, Corinne Masiero, Celine Sallette, Bouli Lanners, Mourad Frarema, Jean-Michel Correia and Yannick Choirat


                   Jacques Audiard


                 Rust and Bone is director Jacques Audiard's latest film after his masterful "A Prophet". It premiered last year at the Cannes Film Festival where it got positive response. But most of its praise was directed towards the two actors, specially Marion Cotillard. This movie is based on Craig Davidson's short story collection of the same name. Basically its about an unemployed 25 year old man with a son, who falls in love with a killer whale trainer. Rust and Bone has gritty realism, melodramatic instances, wrecked souls and the ups and downs of life. It is sometimes hard to tell whether these characters, with their broken arms, legs and hearts are looking for another body or that they are looking for another soul. Ali played by the "Bullhead" star Matthias Schoenaerts is an unemployed father to a son named Sam. He arrives in Antibes, southern France to look for some work. He doesn't have a place to live or the money to afford one so he crashes with his sister, Anna. She too has her own fair share of financial troubles. Ali eventually gets a job as a bouncer in a nightclub while he still pursues his passion for kick boxing. Ali has a chance encounter with Stephanie, played by the wonderful Marion Cotillard, on a usual night. He escorts her safely to her home after she gets inured during a brawl at the club. One day, working at the local marine tourist park, Stephanie gets seriously injured when the Killer Whale attacks her. She wakes up in the hospital to realize that her legs have been amputated. During that, Ali is informed by someone at his work about a kick boxing fixture that he can make money from. Stephanie is depressed now that she is bound to the wheelchair, she gives a call to Ali and they go to beach where Ali helps her swim. After this, they both meet and have casual sex every now and then. Ali is pursuing his passion, helping his little family, Stephanie who is mostly around him starts feeling good about herself. But that is not the end, wrecked bodies and wrecked souls never rest do they?

                 Rust and Bone is mostly helped by Marion Cotillard's powerful, realistic and incredibly visceral performance. 2012 was a great year for female performers, there were just too many brilliant performances to pin down the best. The moment when Stephanie wakes up to find her legs gone, is a moment that I will never forget from this movie. Definitely the most heartbreaking sequence, Cotillard brilliantly portrays that breakdown scene. At the very point when Stephanie starts losing the confidence in herself, on the borderline of feeling pity for the condition she is in, Ali helps her gain the lost sense of pride that she always had in herself. They have sex quite often, they go to beach, they hang around together during the boxing matches and he brings her to his home as well. Matthias Schoenaerts who himself got fame from his Oscar nominated Belgian feature, gives a worthwhile performance. The way Audiard takes him from a struggling father to muscular hunk who loves boxing, to a desirable man to struggling father again is something that is portrayed with all its honesty by the actor. This movie is not romanticised, its not a manly film lets say in a sense, its not particularly lovable or enjoyable as well. Both the guy and the girl, they are quite different from each other. What makes them same is the consequences they have been in, their search for something that they find in each other. Their encounter was the work of fate, their relation is more of a need. He still sees other women and is honest about it in front of her. She understands it but later begins to feels a bit discomfort with the idea. Of course they fall in love but only after they have been through a lot in their life. They go through the transformation together, they experience the brutality together, they understand each other's situation and needs. She is a woman in search to be 'woman' once again, he is in search to be the man he always wanted to be.

                 Rust and Bone is directed with a keen eye by Audiard. Even though its nowhere near his previous film, it does has its moments and merits. The cinematography is striking and has a sense of realism at the same time. It could have been written rather more convincingly since its structure seems very episodic, largely relying on what happens next and what happens after. The movie is not powerful, visceral or incredible all the time. Its running time is a bit long, it has moments where whatever that is happening gets a bit too exasperating and dull. Rust and Bone has good use of music. There is an uplifting sequence featuring the famous Katy Perry song "Firework" to Cotillard's character trying to re-create her glory days when she used to work with the Orca, performing with them in front of everyone on the very song. The use of Lykke Li's "I Follow River" during the night club scene couldn't be more intoxicating. The tone of this movie is a bit uneven. It has some very powerful moments to some very dull ones where the movie begins to look like a small budget feature with nothing significant to say. That is what bothered me but thanks to the performances and Audiard's rough and tough take on the sentimental and the whiny, the overall impact is largely very good. Following an emotionally devastating sequence towards the end that features Schoenaerts at his best, the movie ends on a very uplifting note. There is so much misery that you get to see and experience before that point in the movie that you feel relieved to see it end that way. A point comes where you can seriously start guessing the next wrong thing to happen in the movie, I am sure 1 out of your every 3 guesses will. Does the narrative becomes predictable after a point because of that? Yes it does. But this is not a movie where these characters are shown from the very early to the very end with their romance and their rise and fall in the center. Its main point is to explore the brutality and the tiny moments of joy in the lives of these people. Whatever that is happening during that moment. It is not bothered by how their lives will turn out or that the end is going to be happy or sad. Also its needless to say that the visual effects has been done quite superbly. It helps a lot in the very convincing representation of the state Stephanie gets into and the way Cotillard carries it with her character's on and off depression, liberation, confidence and anger is brilliant.

Grade: B