Film review: Rust and BoneBy Kim Francis
November 07, 2012
The travesty with a film like Rust And Bone is that it just won’t get the audiences it deserves.
And although it has been rolled out across the country, you can’t see it at Reading’s multiplexes – at the time of writing, it was only showing locally at Henley’s Regal cinema.
Park-your-brain-at-the-door entertainment is one thing, but if you want more from your cinema experience (and let’s face it, it ain’t cheap), a film like Rust and Bone gives you so much more; making you feel emotions and providing fodder for your mind to feed on long after you’ve left the picture house.
That’s value for money right there – a film that makes you feel more and then keeps on giving.
French director Jacques Audiard – the acclaimed auteur behind brilliant crime drama A Prophet and romantic crime thriller The Beat That My Heart Skipped – turns his hand to romantic drama in Rust and Bone, a film in which two apparently disparate characters are brought together to fall into an unconventional love affair.
When pretty clubber Stephanie (Marion Cotillard) gets caught up in a fracas outside the nightclub where he works, Ali helps her and the two form an instant bond.
But it isn’t until whale trainer Stephanie is nearly killed in a horrific accident at work that their relationship deepens.
As both battle to make something of their new lives, a question hangs in the air; will it take another tragic turn of events for them to realise what they mean to one another?
This character-driven love story, above all, paints a detailed, naturalistic portrait of two complex human beings, both of whom are forced to reassess their lives in the wake of catastrophic, or just plain difficult, events.
Although this and the way their lives intertwine is the crux of what’s special about the viewing experience, Audiard also explores brilliantly themes such as fatherhood, fate, realistic love and the strength of the human spirit to craft a rich, dense and rewarding film.
While Audiard begins by being extremely sparse with his storytelling, showing us glimpses only of what’s necessary to get the bare bones of the story across, thereby avoiding histrionics and allowing the audience to fill in any blanks, he finishes with much more melodrama.
He manipulates viewers with non-diegetic songs played over some of the events and a handful of scenes of high emotion or drama designed to force a particular reaction, putting the film on more of a par with the mainstream fare it initially distances itself from – and leaving you feeling somewhat deceived.
A smattering of uplifting moment shine through the largely downbeat film despite its disappointing Hollywood influences, whether it’s Stephanie enjoying the feel of the sun on her face or taking a swim in the sea, or a precious interaction between father and son. All are more powerful as a result.
Watching Rust And Bone after so much of the typical Hollywood notions of romance we’re fed, you can’t help but be struck by the breathtakingly real depiction of love here – and of two characters who are human beings rather than neatly packaged stereotypes, with idiosyncracies, contradictions, impulses and dark sides all laid bare.
Rust and Bone is a triumphant character study.