|November 23, 2012|
|Based On A Story By
|Sony Pictures Classics|
Rated R for strong sexual content, brief graphic nudity, some violence and language
|Rust And Bone
“Rust and Bone” is a showcase of two of the best foreign actors currently working, bringing “La Vie En Rose” actress, Marion Cotillard, together with last year’s favorite leading man, Matthias Schoenaerts (“Bullhead”). In a reality-tinged love story, Ali (Schoenarts) and his son, Sam (Armand Verdure), travel to live with his sister, Anna (Corinne Masiero), a struggling grocery cashier. While working as a club bouncer, Ali crosses paths with the gorgeous Stephanie (Cotillard), a trainer of killer whale. When tragedy strikes during a routine whale show, Stephanie loses her legs. In coming to terms with her newfound handicap, she turns to an unlikely person, the quiet and removed Ali.
Although Schoenaerts’ performance is often read as emotionless, that lack of emotion allows for larger crescendos and a perfect backdrop to the kindness he shows Cotillard’s character, Stephanie, after her near fatal accident. Is he taking her swimming out of compassion, or just going through the motions? Is he sleeping with multiple women out of animalistic desire, or does he truly have masked feelings for Stephanie? Those questions are answered, more or less, by the end of the film, but throughout its course, there are several key moments that lean towards love. One of those moments that stuck out for me was during one of his fights, where he sees her stepping out of the van and immediately springs back, winning a fight he had no hope of winning early on. That passion that she brings him is often overshadowed by his ability to look removed from any given situation.
Marion Cotillard’s performance is nothing short of perfection, portraying a woman without legs as if her legs were physically removed for the part. Obviously, a huge applause goes to the visual effects team, that seamlessly projects a legless woman, but also, the spot-on emotional responses and coming to terms of Cotillard as Stephanie is what makes this film so memorable. Her breakdown after waking in the hospital is heart-wrenching, her ashamed looks in public and ability to hide her disappoint are all signs of a master actress, in touch with both her own emotions and those of her character.
This French language film is hardly a love story, as its more about finding hope in despair, but it eventually makes its way around to the human connection elements. “Rust and Bone” is visually stunning, with several key moments that encapsulate the entire film. Also, Alexandre Desplat provides a viable score, with the help of Bon Iver and his soulful melodies opening and closing the film. One could easily produce a case for Audiard’s film making a run at Best Foreign Language film, and even though I yet to see many of its competitors, this is easily at the top of my list for favorite foreign film of the year.