DVD Review - Rust and Bone

Matthias Schoenaerts and
Marion Cotillard in "Rust and Bone"
This is one of the best movies of 2012. Rust and Bone premiered at the Cannes Film Festival where it was nominated for the Palme d'Or. It lost to Michael Haneke's Amour. It was nominated for nine César Awards, including Best Editing, Best Original Music, Best Adapted Screenplay and Most Promising Actor for Matthias Schoenaerts (Bullhead). Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose and The Dark Knight Rises) was up for Best Actress at the BAFTA, Critics Choice, Golden Globes and SAG Awards. The movie itself was nominated as one of the Best Foreign Language Films at the BAFTA, Critics Choice, Golden Globes and Spirit Awards.

Marion Cotillard stars as Stéphanie, an orca trainer at Marineland in Antibes, France, which is in the southern part of that country along the Mediterranean. Matthias Schoenaerts co-stars as Ali van Versch, a former boxer and single dad to 5-year-old Sam. Ali is clearly poor and even has to resort to shoplifting sometimes in order to eat. Ali does get odd jobs in order to support himself and his son. One of which is as a bouncer at the Annex nightclub where he meets Stéphanie for the first time.

Eventually, Ali leaves the nightclub job and Stéphanie leaves her Marineland job. She ends up getting into a line of work that she probably thought she never would. Meanwhile, Ali gets into an underground kickboxing tournament that is absolutely brutal. Unlike recent films that deal with men brutalizing each other for sport like Warrior (2011), Fighting (2009) and Never Back Down (2008), writer-director Jacques Audiard doesn't outright make the audience love this brutality.

It becomes evident that Ali has an aggressive side. He doesn't have an uncontrolled temper or mean streak, but he does show signs of losing his faculty and acting out without thinking. As a result, he can accidentally hurt people. Without being overt, Audiard indicates that kickboxing is a way of focusing Ali's aggression, and the way Audiard shoots and edits the initial fight scenes, the audience is not told whether or not it should approve of what it sees. As I watched, I asked the question if Audiard was fetishizing the fights, or, was he trying to get us to fear them.

Audiard doesn't necessarily give an answer, but that didn't bother me. I was free to draw my own conclusion. I also drew other things, parallels that Audiard rode just beneath the surface, consciously or not. In certain ways, Ali was not unlike the orca that Stéphanie had to train. Yes, it might be easy to compare Ali to an animal, but Audiard doesn't hit the audience over the head with that analogy. If you want, you can infer it yourself.

All the points I've made seem to suggest Audiard didn't do much in terms of laying down his point-of-view. Yet, Audiard's point-of-view is all over this movie. Audiard is a sensualist. Through his film, he wants the nerve-endings to tingle. When Stéphanie goes to the beach, Audiard wants you to feel the sun on her skin, just as she does. Just as she bathes in it, he wants you to do the same.

This sensuality includes every punch that Ali makes and every punch that Ali takes. It also includes the intimate touches between Ali and the many women he encounters. Yes, this movie is romantic, but it doesn't fall into the usual Hollywood romantic trappings. It also handles a topic so superbly that movies like No Strings Attached (2011) or Friends With Benefits (2011) so mishandle that those other movies seem mentally challenged by comparison.

The performances are fantastic and sexy. Audiard handles those performances and the quiet moments amazingly. There are shots in the water, a scene early in the hospital and a powerful, if brief and understated moment where Cotillard goes from a smile to a tear effortlessly. They're all so amazing.

I also have to make note of the soundtrack. The incomparable Alexandre Desplat did the score, but the music also includes pop/rock songs from yesteryear and today that move you in more ways than one. This includes 'Love Shack' by The B-52's, 'I Follow Rivers' by Lykke Li, 'Wash' by Bon Iver, 'Firewater' by Django Django and 'Fireworks' by Katy Perry.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated R for sexual content, graphic nudity, violence and language.
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 2 mins.


Popular Posts