DIRECTOR: Jacques Audiard
STARRING: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts, Armand Verdure
Jacques Audiard’s newest film Rust and Bone leaves behind the male dominated worlds of his last two triumphs, The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005) and A Prophet (2009), to concentrate on a more sensitive, and nearly melodramatic account of a newly disabled female main character.
The film follows a touching romance, between Stéphanie (Cotillard), a trainer of killer whales recovering from an accident at the amusement park where she works, and Ali (Schoenaerts), a bouncer and bare knuckle fighter who moves to Antibes when put in full charge of his young son (Verdure).
This is a demanding experience for some viewers, considering the outright brutishness and carelessness of the lead male role and the gruelling reality of the leading lady’s character, Rust and Bone does offer true character growth and a sincerely enticing plot. Both Cotillard and Schoenaerts are devastatingly brilliant, with Cotillard shining brightest throughout. The product of both their excellent performances is an exasperating yet utterly absorbing romance, depicting poverty, sex and violence in bizarre yet moving circumstances.
Ultimately the film surfaces as a study of human frailty and strength, with the divergence of Audiard’s storytelling and stunning visual approach reinforcing this duality, the routine tendency toward the former and the unexpected assertions of the latter. Rust and Bone is proof of Audiard’s intrepid artistry and aims to move its audiences with exaggerated, sometimes Hollywoodesque scenarios, and succeeds in doing so as much as, if not more than his previous works.