Review – Rust and Bone

Rust and Bone (De rouille et d’os)

Jacques Audiard

2012, France/Belgium

A Killer Whale trainer, after surviving a tragic accident, decides to contact the bouncer of a nightclub who drove her home some time before. She finds him, especially the darker side of his personality, fascinating as his manner with her gives her the confidence to push through her depression and see a way to carry on.

If you were to just read my synopsis above it’s entirely probable that you would believe this is a feel good romp for all the family. It aint. It’s an anxious watch. It is a study of pain, love, hope and friendship. At the centre we have two characters, both broken and battered in one way or another, sharing themselves and finding love. Marion Cotillard plays the injury stricken protagonist with crushing rawness. On a surface level it is easy to say that she has never looked so bad on camera but that would be too easy. Her character is so complex and difficult to study: why does she phone this man? Why is she so ostensibly infatuated with a violent, vulgar, unintelligent and basically bad person? It is true that she doesn’t see the worst of him through the film, hitting his child, violent casual sex, fierce threatening behaviour but she does see his love of fighting, joining him on his bare knuckle fight road trips, even helping him to organise them. It seems that she finds comfort in a man who has no time or wish to feel sorry for her situation. He will be friends but he will not sympathise. On this logic their friendship is clear. Matthias Schoenaerts plays the man in question, crashing his way through the film with incredible power and rage. Think of Tom Hardy mixed with Marlon Brando and you will be close to his representation. How he manages to keep his character sympathetic after his abhorrent treatment of pretty much everyone in the film is laudable. Low points for me would be the Katy Perry inclusion and the ending that seemed to do the rest of the film, which is played with an incredibly powerful naturalistic tone, an injustice by sinking into stark melodrama but above all it was beguiling. Not as great as Audiard’s previous film Un prophète (A Prophet), which was easily one of the best films of that year but definitely a prime cut of celluloid.

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