Rust and Bone
Directed by Jacques Audiard
Starring Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts
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.