Rust And Bone: A Short Review

So, two short reviews in a row. I had the day off work and went to see “Rust And Bone” this afternooon. It’s the new film by Jacques Audiard, who directed “A Prophet” – one of my favourite films of the last five years.

“Rust And Bone” is a love story about Ali, a sexually feckless security guard who is struggling to look after his young son on his own, and Stéphanie (played by second most beautiful woman in the world, Marion Cotillard), who is injured while working as a co-ordinator of killer whale displays at an ocenarium. Needless to say it is not a minor injury. The film is basically their love story. I don’t feel so much responsibility to hide plot details about this film because, to be frank, I could type out the whole plot here and it wouldn’t convey the reasons why it’s so great.

Whereas “Skyfall” was an enjoyable film by virtue of being well paced dumb entertainment, “Rust And Bone” is that other type of great film: the one that tries to tell us a new story while trying to explain something about all of us at the same time. It’s full of gritty moments, both physical and psychological, and also moments of transcendant delight and beauty. There were points were it felt like a wire was being worked into my chest and yet there are also moments of deep delight and sweetness. For the most part it is shot with a documentary style that makes it feel very immediate and real, but as with “A Prophet” there are also giddy slow motion shots and scenes that are loose and unstructured and dream-like. However, what drives it more than anything else is two superb acting performances by Marion Cotilliard and Matthias Schoenaerts.

Unfortunately, it’s not a flawless movie. It runs out of steam at the end despite maintaining the high drama and the fact that probably the most unpleasant scene is near the end of the film. I felt that it could have been slightly longer to help tease out some of what happened. Sometimes a lack of exposition in a movie helps to build mystery but here it just smacks of poor editing, to the point where I feel a bit like I haven’t watched a complete film. That’s probably harsher criticism than I intend given my feelings for the movie as a whole.

When I described the film to my housemate earlier this evening, I realised that so much of what I had seen had been geared to getting me to understand the characters and to feel for them. I had to describe convoluted cause and effect ripples through the plot as one person’s actions impacted on others. I was describing the characters (especially Ali) as though they were people that I knew (or at least had watched in a soap opera for a long time!) and it was quite disconcerting how far the film had got under my skin. It’s highly recommended.

Finally, I also really enjoyed the soundtrack. The score was by Alexandre Desplat who also did “Moonrise Kingdom” and the soundtrack also includes Bon Iver and Lykke Li, along with a dance remix of “State Trooper” by Bruce Springsteen – something that I had long imagined myself.

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