Rust and BoneFeature Film |
Two intensely believable performances compensate for a deficient script.
Jacques Audiard has a unique talent for depicting unexpectedly intimate relationships. That was certainly true of his breakthrough film, Read My Lips, and of his best, most cohesive work to date, A Prophet. He continues that streak with Rust and Bone, co-written with Thomas Bidegain, inspired by a couple of short stories by Canadian author Craig Davidson. Whatever flaws the movie might have, its beauty lies in its depiction of the slow-burning romance between Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts), a gruff, broken-down street fighter and imperfect father to his young son Sam (Armand Verdure), and Stéphanie (Marion Cotillard), a free-spirited but lost water park orca trainer maimed in a terrible accident. Schoenaerts (Bullhead) is a find, and Ali's brooding machismo offset by a blunt authenticity in his dealings with the world that is almost graceful. Cotillard has been overwrought in other roles, but here, she underplays Stéphanie's trauma, confusion, and longing gorgeously. These are surprisingly quiet performances, Audiard films them in an elegant, honest way, capturing how Ali, nearly oblivious in his matter-of-factness, literally and figuratively brings the wounded Stéphanie back out into the light.
But all that beauty is almost lost in the swampy plot, with its killer whale, digitally amputated limbs, brawls, and redemption through brutality. When they first meet at a nightclub where the scrounging Ali is working as a bouncer, he tells the flailing Stéphanie that she dresses "like a whore," and sadly, from the film's point-of-view, it's not Ali who has to learn a lesson about that. These are compelling, well-drawn and complex characters, for the most part, but the story, which sometimes sidles up alongside absurdity, contains more than a whiff of an unappealing Old World sexism, and ends unconvincingly, isn't always worthy of them. Rust and Bone is lovely to look at, though, and its two leads bring it fitfully to vibrant life.
|Rust and Bone Trailer|