Movie review: 'Rust and Bone' - 3.5 stars

Marion Cotillard in Rust and Bone

Marion Cotillard in Rust and Bone (Credit: Marion Cotillard in "Rust and Bone" )

Rust and Bone
3.5 stars
Directed by Jacques Audiard
Starring Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts
Rated R
In French with English subtitles

Jacques Audiard’s powerful “Rust and Bone” achieves an improbable feat, turning Katy Perry’s “Firework” into an anthem of personal triumph.

It’s a strangely perfect song for this Antibes-set romance and its moving portrait of two wounded souls forming an unlikely connection. Not one for taking the easy cinematic road, though, Audiard also offers a philosophical consideration of the thin line that separates man and beast.

Evocative close-ups, expressive slow-motion and painterly compositions framing characters against nature combine with some good old-fashioned grit to help Audiard in his task.

Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) lives with his sister and son, and works as a bouncer. Stephanie (Marion Cotillard) is a killer-whale trainer. He's a misunderstood brute. She's a troubled woman with a kind heart. After a terrible accident changes her life forever, the two become close friends and lovers.

What sounds like a movie of the week formula plays much more convincingly. Schoenaerts and Cotillard are charismatic actors, able to convey weakness and strength in a single glance. Ali and Stephanie's relationship is layered and complex, with each enhancing the other's sense of self-worth at a time when they're at low points.

The ultimate proof of the film’s success? You desperately want to see their characters find some measure of happiness together.


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