Great performances by Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts make RUST AND BONE a powerful romance
Water rises above its normal role as cinematic metaphor to lead character status in Rust and Bone (De rouille et d’os), the latest drama from French master Jacques Audiard and arguably the most powerful movie romance this year. It’s the calm, crystal clear water tanks of the French Riviera Marineland where killer-whale trainer Stéphanie (Marion Cotillard) works that changes her life forever after a crippling accident. Deep in depression following her misfortune, Stéphanie regains her zest for life in the rough surf of the Ligurian Sea thanks to help from an unlikely partner, a rough, bare-knuckle fighter named Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts).
An official selection at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and already a hit with French audiences, Rust and Bone filmmaker Audiard crafts a drama that’s partly familiar, an opposite sides of the tracks love story between the worldly Stéphanie and the gruff, penniless Ali; with something unique and shocking, a bloody incident that forces the pretty killer-whale trainer to regain her courage for life and her job.
Audiard is slowly building a following with American art-house moviegoers thanks to the prison drama A Prophet, the father/son crime thriller The Beat My Heart Skipped and the romantic thriller Read My Lips. He deserves every accolade and more creating stunning images with his frequent collaborator, cameraman Stephane Fontane (A Prophet, The Beat My Heart Skipped) and pairing them with a powerful tale of loss and rebirth co-written with Thomas Bidegain (A Prophet).
Marion Cotillard, so stunning as the romantic interest to Batman’s alter ego Bruce Wayne in the recent superhero blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises, delivers one of her best performances as the embittered Stéphanie.
Cotillard makes an impressive entrance in the movie as Stéphanie; beautiful but drunk and bruised from a fight at local club, relying on the help of Ali who works part-time as a bouncer and offers to take her home.
Impressively, Cotillard displays the wide breadth of her acting talents as Stéphanie; looking terrible at times, acting badly as she copes with the effects of her accident, only to be revived by a return to the sea.
Cotillard is well known worldwide thanks to roles in Hollywood blockbusters like as well as art house hits La vie en rose and Midnight in Paris. The film’s great surprise is Belgium actor Matthias Schoenaerts, so powerful in the little-seen drama Bullhead and just as compelling as Stéphanie unexpected boyfriend Ali.
Cotillard is the marquee star of the movie but it’s Schoenaerts who pulls all the subplots together including his attempts at being a better father to his young son, his battle to rise above homelessness and poverty as a bare-knuckle boxer and to start a loving relationship with Stéphanie.
Audiard and Bidegain make the movie romance richer by surrounding the tentative lovers with real-life turmoil involving Ali’s part-time work as a store security guard and actions that cost his sister her much-needed job as a store cashier as well as well-placed moments of high drama, especially a scene when Ali takes his fists to a frozen lake in order to aid his son.
The story of Stéphanie and Ali is one of brutality battling tenderness, real-life financial struggles and those dark moments when happiness seems out of reach. Thanks to the storytelling talents of Audiard and his team of regular collaborators, it’s also a life drama and a romance displayed with magic, passion and sweet hope.
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Cast: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenarts
Director: Jacques Audiard
Cinematographer: Stephane Fontane
Screenwriter: Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain
Editor: Juliette Welfling
Producers: Why Not Productions, Page 114
Running Time: 120 minutes
Rating: Rated R
Release Date: November 23, 2012