RUST AND BONE
(De Rouille et D'os)
Release Date: Friday 2 November
Director: Jacques Audiard
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts, Armand Verdure, Corinne Masiero
Screening Reviewed: London Film Festival Press Screening
Reviewed by Kyle Pedley
There’s something almost incomparably elegant and elegaic about Jacques Audiard’s exquisite Rust and Bone, a masterclass of subtlety and nuance which crafts an almost bewilderingly authentic portrayal of two aimless souls finding one another amongst the unexpected calamities and drama that life has hurled at them.
Miles apart from his Oscar-nominated 2009 hit A Prophet, Audiard here crafts a tale far less dependent on narrative and incident (the few moments for major spectacle are left unexploited) and rather allows character and a naturalistic study pondering physicality, responsibility and purpose to take front and centre, and the result is one of the most convincing and engagingly human dramas of any language in recent years. That’s not to say it is anything less than a visual treat, for in no way could this be translated to stage, for instance, without losing much of it’s strength, heart and beauty; the cinematography and wonderfully evocative imagery on display throughout lends far too much to the experience. Likewise there are plenty of moments that do shock and amaze, though these are generally born of our investment in the characters and the sheer reality of what we are being shown.
The film follows the story of Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts), a wandering, disillusioned and irresponsible man put in charge of his young son and clearly ill-equipped for the task. The struggles he faces are everyday and empathetic, and never given any form of Hollywood elevation. He struggles to be faithful, to commit, to communicate, save for his obsession with the physical - sex, fighting, running. Marion Cotillard plays Stephanie, a killer whale trainer who seems equally unsatisfied, ‘dressing like a whore’ for attention at a seedy nightclub and in a seemingly loveless relationship with a man she struggles to even keep eye contact with.
When the two meet, and later Stephanie is involved in a terrible accident (which again is beautifully and boldly downplayed), their lives and passions gradually become intertwined and a brilliantly realised and supremely believable, flawed and inconsistent relationship begins to develop. In many ways they are completely incompatible yet in others they fit together perfectly - a physical yin and yang of one another as it were, she paralysed in both body and mind through melancholy, he liberated and appeased only through rage and violence.
The performances throughout are blisteringly authentic, Cotillard and Schoenarts work beautifully together and this is a film where across-the-board every element and department harmonises to make a resoundingly complete movie experience. Nothing registers as false or forced, and to be perhaps a little unfairly particular, credit must go especially to the remarkable prosthetic and effects work done in ensuring Cotillard’s injuries are wholly believable and convincing throughout. I shan’t spoil the film with specifics, but on more than one occasion I found myself dumbfounded at how they had managed to pull it off so uncannily, and if that did pull me out of the movie, it was only in awe and appreciation.
Many will no doubt find the tone of Rust and Bone too mundane and the subject matter too sedate in execution, and it’s true that some of the minor deviations mid-way through seem to put the film on hold emotionally and progressively, but this is still deliberate, almost poetic film-making at it’s absolute finest. At a push, it could be described as The Wrestler meets Amores Perros, and those are two perfectly fine pedigrees, but this is a film deserving of it’s own acclaim and recognition, and a standing and reputation within the industry on par with its own beautiful, touching quality and achievement.
(A)MUSINGS RATING - * * * * * (5 out of 5 stars)
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The 56th BFI London Film Festival runs in full from 10 - 21 October 2012 in partnership with American Express. Press Screenings for the festival began 24 September 2012. For more information on the festival please visit www.bfi.org.uk/lff