director Jacques Audiard (A Prophet) counters a
with fascinating conceptual details, beautiful images and intense
raw acting. Rust and Bone is equally
mesmerising as it is clumsy, but that it is ever touching is a result
skillful albeit undisciplined filmmaking.
film's story belongs to Ali
(Matthias Schoenaerts), a hardened man looking for a place to stay with
young son Sam (Armand Verdure). With little money, they house together
home of Ali's sister Anna (Corinne Masiero). Finding work as a bouncer
nightclub, Ali breaks up a fight and escorts Stephanie (Marion
Cotillard) home. Stephanie
is an orca whale trainer at
Marineworld but after a freak accident at a show she is hospitalised
up to find that both her legs have been amputated.
and broken, she calls Ali
for assistance and comes to realise that with the rest of her body
capable of living. Meanwhile, to make money Ali participates in sweaty,
unofficial kickboxing matches.
Audiard's previous film A Prophet, a gritty prison
the director contrasts agonising moments of pain and
images that are brimming with meaning and beauty. The tone
is consistent but there are
bumps in the script, written by the director and Thomas Bidegain. The
they've adapted, "Rust and Bone", is by Canadian author Craig
Davidson, and is comprised of a number of short stories.
from these stories have
been borrowed and developed for a whole new story and the two central
characters were also written anew for the screen. Some of the theories
physicality are smart, but the pastiche format of the book is too
structure feels episodic,
which leaves powerful images, like Stephanie's reunion with the whale,
isolated moments. The
trajectory of the narrative is
often stifled as we wait for new plot points to gain punctuality. An
underdeveloped subplot surrounding Ali's security employment for
on a sizeable coincidence to drive the story into its final
is better as a critique of
the way people fail to appreciate their own bodies, until
they reach a catastrophic event that makes them rethink their
framing of the characters from
the waist up removes any consciousness of the rest of their bodies.
reflects the lack of self-worth in their lives as they are only
primal instincts of survival, like relying on other people to mentally
physically carry them (a pertinent image), or scavenging for food in
downtrodden economic period.
disunity between belief and the
primal thought is shown in two juxtaposing moments. Stephanie is filmed
a long lens, standing alone as the mould for her prosthetic limbs sets.
shot seems isolating but the visibility of her own being reminds her
she still alive and capable.
then cuts to shot Ali
sitting down at a computer, with only half his body visible, watching
the Internet. It shows the immaturity of his self-preservation in using
body for money and what he calls "fun". In this instance, the
of theme and content is startlingly articulate.
is less confident with
romantic sentimentalism. Both characters begin to inspire each other's
in their own physical capabilities but it's an uneven theme. Ali
Stephanie to sleep with him to see if her body is still functional. We
that he is promiscuous so is he just using her? The question lingers.
convincing is when Ali claws
back into the match when he sees Stephanie walking towards the fighting
or when she is hired to become a money handler for the fights, despite
the brutality and juvenility. It softens the opportunity for more
conflict between the leads.
actors, as naturalistic
as they are, are a little reminiscent of the film. There are flashes of
brilliance, including scenes of unprecedented emotional strain. But
are stretches where Cotillard's reserved performance makes you long for
perpetuated tension and drama. It's an affecting and sometimes
but you will have to wait for its best moments.