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Rust and Bone

Rust and Bone: Award-Winning French Drama

  • Marion CotillardMatthias Schoenaerts
  • DramaRomance
  • Out now
  • Jacques Audiard
reviewed by
Marija Loncarevic
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Rust and Bone: Award-Winning French Drama

Ever since her mesmerising performance as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, Marion Cotilliard has become one of the most sought after actresses in Hollywood.  Appearing in a number of hit films including Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, Christopher Nolan’s Inception and most recently The Dark Knight Rises, it has become very clear that everyone wants a piece of Mademoiselle Cotilliard’s indisputable talents.

Rust and Bone – a low-key French melodrama – sees Marion return to her roots, with a story centred on two people coming together in times of great need.

The film opens with Ali (Schoenaerts); an unemployed and an irresponsible single father who arrives in Antibes in southern France to live with his semi-estranged sister, Anna (Masiero). He soon lands a job as a bouncer at a nearby club; apart from being able to ogle short skirts all night long, it also gives him the freedom to take up kickboxing during the day.

One night, during a club brawl, he meets Stephanie (Cotilliard); an orca trainer working at a nearby water park who gets herself caught up in the middle of the fight. Unable to drive, Ali extends his courtesy and drives her home. Initially, the two are shown to have no spark; they’re greeted by Stephanie’s jealous boyfriend and the two go their separate ways.

Their paths cross again when Stephanie suffers a freak accident at the water park and calls on Ali to her rescue one more time. Finding solace in each other’s company, the twosome starts off as friends, before finding themselves on the road to something more.

Directed and co-written by Jacques Audiard – a filmmaker who gained acclaim for award-winning crime drama, A Prophet – Rust and Bone creates a successfully dark and unsympathetic melodrama of one woman’s journey of both physical and emotional recovery. Unapologetic and sincere, the film is shot beautifully and is filled with dreamy, dim-lit water sequences, which play well against its generally grey and gritty backdrop.

Unfortunately, Audiard does falter and manages to alienate all sense of intrigue and sentiment. The plot becomes predictable and manages to lose its leading lady almost straight away. Pushing her story completely aside, the focus is abruptly shifted on the hardships of a single father. The relationship between the two protagonists is baffling; the connection is off and they’re relationship lacks any obvious passion. While nature of their relationship mirrors the mise en scene and the characters’ miserable lives, the story yearns for a shot of furious romance to tie it all together.

The most disturbing factor of all is the soundtrack; Katy Perry’s ‘Fireworks’ and B52’s ‘Love Shack’, among other musical monstrosities, lend absolutely nothing to the sum of the film’s parts.

Despite its ups and downs, Cotilliard delivers a sincere and often moving performance; never one to go over the top, the thirty seven year-old keeps her role grounded and real.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for her male counterpart who, very early on, settles into a one-dimensional portrayal of what should have been a complex character; Ali ends up coming across as a man devoid of any charm or wit.

Raw, dark and very French, this is one of those films that you desperately want to love, but just plain don’t.

Like This? Try

The Intouchables (2011), The Diving Bell and Butterfly (2007), The Sea Inside (2004)  

360 Tip

To prepare for the role, Marion Cotillard took swimming lessons and spent a week at Marineland to learn how to direct whales. 

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