DECEMBER 9, 2012

“Rust and Bone” is a showcase of two of the best international 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 a killer whale. When tragedy strikes during a routine whale show, Stephanie loses her legs. Coming to terms with her newfound handicap, she turns to an unlikely person, the quiet and removed Ali.

Although Schoenaerts’ performance is often emotionless, that lack of emotion allows for more enormous 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 genuinely have masked feelings for Stephanie? Those questions are answered, more or less, by the end of the film, but throughout its course, several key moments 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. The passion she brings him overshadows his ability to look removed from any situation.

Marion Cotillard’s performance is nothing short of perfection, portraying a woman without legs with unfathomable realism. Colossal applause goes to the visual effects team, which seamlessly projects a legless woman. The spot-on emotional responses and coming to terms with Cotillard as Stephanie make this film memorable. Her breakdown after waking in the hospital is heartwrenching. Her ashamed looks in public and ability to hide her disappointment are subtle. These are all signs of a master actress in touch with her own emotions and those of her character.

This French language film is hardly a love story, as it’s 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 vital moments encapsulating the entire film. Also, Alexandre Desplat provides a heartwrenching score, with the help of Bon Iver and his soulful melodies opening and closing the film. One could effortlessly make a case for Audiard’s film making a run at Best Foreign Language film, as this is easily at the top of my list of favorite foreign films of the year.

November 23, 2012

Jacques Audiard

Jacques Audiard
Thomas Bidegain

“Rust and Bone”
by Craig Davidson

Sony Pictures Classics

(for strong sexual content, brief graphic nudity, some violence and language)

120 minutes

Stéphane Fontaine

Alexandre Desplat

Juliette Welfling

Marion Cotillard
Matthias Schoenaerts
Corinne Masiero
Céline Sallette
Bouli Lanners

Jacques Audiard
Martine Cassinelli
Pascal Caucheteux
Alix Raynaud

$20 million

Leave a Reply