Saturday, 19 January 2013

Rust and Bone / De rouille et d'os (2012)

Very French. Rust and Bone sells itself as "a love story that begins when two worlds fall apart" in its trailer. I wouldn't say it's necessarily spot on, but it's pretty much what you get. One world falls apart, and another simply goes along the steady yet self-destructive path it has been on for quite a while.

To sell the plot would require spoilers, so I'll keep it very vague. Matthias Schoenaerts' Ali arrives with no job, no money and nothing to do except stay with his sister some time after splitting with the mother of his son, whom he has in tow. While struggling to get back on his feet and struggling to deal with having his young son's care entrusted to only him, he meets Marion Cotillard's Stéphanie and the two go on a journey of loss, recovery and anger. The film feels very French in that it touches on the elements left behind after the French New Wave movement in cinema. The plot doesn't follow hollywood conventions so much as some things just happen. It's more of a slice of life from these people rather than a nice neat story all tied up with a bow. The conclusion ends up a little too neat for the after the preceding hour and fifty minutes, but how we get there is more important than the destination.

Schoenaerts gives a fantastic performance as the seemingly oblivious Ali, a man who pretends not to notice a lot of things he does wrong in an effort to justify them. His bouts of violence throughout the film and his reactions to them betray his façade and reveal a man who who revels in his masculinity but suffers from a lot of insecurities he's unwilling to voice.

But it's Cotillard who steals the show. After a string of successful Hollywood roles, Rust and Bone marked her return to her native French cinema. She has a way of expressing complex and deep seated emotion through the most minute movements in her face and body language. Without going into spoiler territory, her performance as the troubled Stéphanie who is plagued with loss is remarkable. With moments of pure despair counterbalanced with those of elation she's a force to be reckoned with. It's refreshing to see her perform with such skill after most recently seeing her in The Dark Knight Rises, which while a great film wasn't great because of the performances and her stint as Miranda was nothing special.

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