Movie Review : Rust and Bone (2012)




Marion Cotillard
Matthias Schoenaerts 

Directed By:

Jacques Audiard

Canadian author Craig Davidson is one of contemporary literature's best kept secret. He writes gritty, painful stories about people who yearn for another life. Few are better than him in finding beauty in broken bones and sorrows. A film adaptation by french director Jacques Audiard is an odd idea at first glance. Audiard is the mind behind movies such as THE PROPHET and THE BEAT THAT MY HEART SKIPPED, both dark and yet of a very different tone. But somebody has to attempt at adapting Davidson and Audiard struck me as having the earnest approach to storytelling necessary to make it a success. He brought in the talented Marion Cotillard to play one of the lead roles and paired her up with up-and-coming Belgian actor Mathias Schoenaerts, just to see what would happen. While RUST AND BONE isn't a perfect, transcendent movie, the strength of Davidson's characters carry over to the big screen and offers its share of gut-wrenching moments. You know I'm a sucker for those.

So what's it about exactly? The trailer is rather confusing. It's about Ali (Schoenaerts) who's been put in charge of his son Sam (Armand Verdure) and moves in with his sister and her husband, to help him figuring this new life out. Ali, who's a veteran boxer and kickboxer, is going from security gig to security gig, where he meets Stephanie (Cotillard) in a club where he bounced. Her abrasive, conflicted personality intrigues Ali, but when he finds out she's in a couple, he makes a gentleman of himself and backs off. When Stephanie suffers a horrible accident that leaves her handicapped, she turns to Ali for companionship. In a bizarre turn of events, this accident was exactly what they needed to get closer together. Both have to say goodbye to the life they once knew and embrace the unknown and they help each other out doing so, giving each other strength in their own peculiar way.

RUST AND BONE brings back an ages old debate about film adaptation. Can a movie be too faithful to a story? The main issue I had with RUST AND BONE is the way its been edited. There is too much happening and the chain of events tumbles down way too fast and it confines the characters to short, quick scenes. Should Jacques Audiard have made RUST AND BONE deliberately a bit slower and gave more space to its characters? I think so, but I'm positively biased for slower movies. The pace is slacking about two thirds into the film and scenes started to grow longer. I thought the most visceral moments happened right there as Audiard left the camera on his actors long enough and trusted them to carry the emotions. It doesn't always happen earlier as everything moves very fast, because Audiard's main concern is to tell the story. He kind of got in the way of what could have been beautiful, dramatic moments. RUST AND BONE is heavily character driven and Audiard doesn't seem to get that.

So the penultimate question. Is it worth watching? Absolutely. RUST AND BONE is a beautiful, tainted, visceral romance that doesn't try to play with your emotions. It talks about straight, unadulterated, powerful emotions. Sure, the execution could have been better. The movie doesn't carry all the violent beauty of Craig Davidson's characters, but it does a part of the job and tied my stomach into a knot three or four times. In the end, if a movie is powerful enough to give you an irrational bodily reaction about it, it did something right. Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts are brilliant, subtle and keep you on their hook. Some critics deplored Schoenaerts game for being expressionless, but don't believe the hype. He does just enough to represent what kind of man Ali is and he lets pain through at a slow but regular pace. RUST AND BONE feels real and won't let you down. Not exactly a turn-your-brain-off movie though. It requires your intellectual participation. Go see that stupid RED DAWN reboot if movies are an excuse to be fed thoughts for you. But if it isn't, give RUST AND BONE a try.



I'm a pop culture blogger and author living in Montreal, Canada with my better half Josie and my dog Scarlett. I am a proud member of author collective Zelmer Pulp and have about a dozen of short stories published to my resume.

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