A love story between unconventional, unlikable characters; a story of redemption for a selfish father; a story of hope for a lost soul. Rust And Bone is all of these, and features a tour de force performance from Cottilard. At times beautiful, haunting at others, it’s frustrating that something seems a little off throughout and the film doesn’t manage to hit the high notes it reaches for even though all the ingredients are there.
I think the two most notable things to say from my perspective on Rust And Bone are the performance by Cottilard, and the gnawing sensation that something was going to go badly wrong before the end – the film feels throughout like a bleak Haneke tale and I was always expecting the worst. I don’t know if that can accurately be called tension or if that is merely me projecting onto the film, but it was there nevertheless. Cottilard’s performances speaks for itself, and many thought she would get another Oscar nod for it. She stars as a woman – Stephanie – almost in the femme fatale vein, who works in a French equivalent of Sea World, giving Orca performances. She appears to be in a loveless, potentially violent relationship and spends evenings in dodgy night clubs. One night she meets Ali, a man with a violent, mistake-led past who has recently become the club’s bouncer. He has only moved to the area to live with his sister to try to find some stability for himself and his young son. After an accident at her job Stephanie has both legs amputated and enters a serious depression. Over the course of the film, we watch as Stephanie and Ali form a closer relationship, but still suffer from inside and outside problems and stresses. As the film progresses, the two begin to rely on each other potentially to the detriment of their other responsibilities and we wonder if tragedy will strike again.
I would recommend Rust And Bone to any genuine film fans – it’s a difficult tale to watch at times, but the redemptive journey and the burgeoning central relationship is genuine and affecting. As I mentioned, I kept waiting for the film to take a stark turn, but I cannot add any further comment in that respect without giving away spoilers. Audiard’s films are always impressive and thought-provoking and tend to receive much critical acclaim – this one is no different, but when you throw in an actress with now world wide renown the bar is raised that little bit further. It isn’t always easy, it isn’t always simple, but that’s love.
Let us know in the comments what you thought of Rust And Bone and if you feel it deserves the adulation it has received.