Loosely based on Craig Davidson’s collection of short stories, Rust And Bone is one of the darkest, existential looks into the human condition to ever blossom on film.
Loosely based on Craig Davidson’s collection of short
stories, Rust And Bone is one of the darkest, existential looks into the human
condition to ever blossom on film. But where Davidson’s
stories often culminate in tragedy, Jacques
Audiard’s film is a heart-wrenching exercise in blood-soaked, tear-drenched
and heart-thumping euphoria.
Alain (Matthias Schoenaerts) has recently
found himself in soul custody of his young five-year-old son Sam (Armand Verdure). Broke and out of work, Alain travels to
the French Riviera to live with his sister. Taking a job as a nightclub bouncer he meets killer whale
trainer Stephanie (Marion Cotillard)
after an altercation in the club.
Soon after Stephanie is caught in a horrific accident at work changing
her life forever. Depressed and
alone in the world, she turns to Alain for friendship and the two begin to form
a deep understanding just as his life is spiraling out of control.
As with Audiard’s
mesmerising A Prophet, Rust And Bone
is a deeply intimate portrait of souls lost in the world trying to find their
place. Alain is a man of few
words, an emotionally stunted hulk of a man desperate to provide for his son
but at a loss as to how to be a good father. Stephanie is used to being centre stage, having all eyes on
her whether in a club or at work with crowds watching her killer whale
show. After her accident she finds
herself on the periphery, cast aside by a world that looks at her with pity
rather than lust.
street-fighting career takes off, Stephanie finds strength in his unbridled determination. Alain sees Stephanie as a muse of
strength, able to pick herself up when the world keeps kicking. In many ways they are a beauty and the
beast for the 21st century.
While the subject
matter is often hostile and coated in grit, Audiard shoots everything with a
heavenly glint, the sun pecking the lens with a celestial glow to remind you
that every cloud has a silver lining.
While he never finished his degree, Audiard studied philosophy and Rust
And Bone certainly allows him to explore the themes of survival and
self-preservation. Towards the end Alain’s voice-over
informs us that while human bones fix themselves, sometimes stronger than
before, some wounds can never truly heal but instead remain with us for life, a
constant reminded of what we have been through to get to where we are. After some of the ordeals endured
through the film it is an emotionally powerful punch to the heart, one so
resounding as to undoubtedly look on the bright side of life.
performance immediately launches him on to the international stage of ‘ones to
watch’. Already a veteran of
Belgium cinema his performance here is wonderfully closed off. His Alain is often going through the
motions of life rather than fully engaging with it. Until the end when all those repressed feelings come pouring
out to such gut wrenching effect as to make you fall hopelessly in love with
this mountain of a man. Cotillard
is on typically captivating form. Her
metamorphosis from greasy bedraggled depressive to a pillar of strength over
the course of the film is remarkably inspiring. That she has not been recognised by The Academy Awards this
year is criminal and probably only punishable by swimming with her Rust And
Bone killer whale co-star.
hauntingly beautiful, Rust And Bone is a film that kicks you into the dirt
before lifting you up to the light in the most awe-inspiring way possible. You probably won’t look at Free Willy
the same way ever again though.