Rust And Bone

Rust And Bone

*****

Reviewed by: Merlin Harries

Rust and Bone premiered at Cannes 2012 to near unanimous cries for awards. It takes little effort to see why the picture was so warmly received, as it is an incredibly tender yet unsentimental portrayal of burgeoning romance in the midst of adversity. Based on the short story of the same name by Canadian author Craig Davidson, Rust And Bone is the rarest of cinematic delights - poignant, provocative and profoundly visceral.

The story of orca wrangler Stéphanie (Marion Cotillard) and likable yet licentious ne'er-do-well Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) begins at a roguish nightspot, involving the somewhat clichéd scenario of the latter rescuing the former from an affray. While Stéphanie appears guardedly taken with Ali’s sensitive demeanour, it later becomes clear that his penchant for romance does not readily extend beyond the immediately physical.

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Ali, having fled Belgium with his son Sam (Armand Verdure), travels to Antibes with the hope of a better life, but quickly finds his immediate problems rest within rather than without. He arrives to discover his estranged sister Anna (Corinne Masiero) eking out the humblest of existences and quickly turns to a nefarious life in security and back-street bare-knuckle boxing. Stéphanie, in turn, is brought further into his life when, following a horrendous accident, her life is irrevocably changed.

As Stéphanie slowly adjusts to her new existence she finds, in Ali, a calmly affectless companion, who greets life with an almost condemnable indifference. Where her friends and colleagues unwittingly flood her with remorse and pity, Ali merely forces her to confront her challenges through his sheer feckless abandon. Cotillard and Schoenaerts demonstrate an admirable emotional fluency in their scenes together.

In a film that boasts a host of riches in its script and players, the cinematography of Stéphane Fontaine brings further spoils. Rarely has a film made such purposeful use of light and shade, from exquisitely sunlit beaches, to the occasional shadow dancing across a deeply contemplative Cotillard, it is a joy to behold.

Cotillard is a defining talent of the current cinematic era, possessing the ability to shift from stony-faced indifference to the rawest depths of human emotion in an instant. Matthias Schoenaerts warrants equal praise, giving Ali a primordial masculinity that is captivating and fleetingly chilling. Audiard handles the brutality of Ali’s bare-knuckle fight scenes with aplomb, relying on Schoenaerts to govern the sequences with a ferocious verve.

For a cinematic adaptation that could have so readily slipped into the doldrums of sentimentality, Audiard brings a meaningful and organic drama of love to life, which is both beautiful and beguiling.

Reviewed on: 03 Oct 2012
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A bare-knuckle boxer embarks on a relationship with an injured whale trainer.
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Director: Jacques Audiard

Writer: Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain, based on the story by Craig Davidson

Starring: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts, Armand Verdure, Céline Sallette, Corinne Masiero, Bouli Lanners, Jean-Michel Correia, Mourad Frarema, Yannick Choirat, Fred Menut, Duncan Versteegh, Katia Chaperon, Catherine Fa, Andès Lopez Jabois, Océane Cartia

Year: 2012

Runtime: 120 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Festivals:

London 2012

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