I know I've got a big ego, I really don't know why it's such a big deal, though.
What I enjoyed most with this cinematic treat is the subtle way Audiard handles this dramatic story. Some scenes are just pure magic. The scene where Cotillard loses her legs is built up with to such an extended and suspense by noise and fast editing that that we all understand that something will be happening. Also the scene where Cotillard decides to take a bath belongs to one of this years most inspirational and finest moments.
Cotillards transformation on screen is wonderful. She begins the film as a self-assured, serious and secure about her sexuality but after the accident she transforms into an almost childlike woman, dependent on the kindness of strangers. Schoenaerts also brings very much to the story as a man more dedicated to himself than anything else. If there would have been any justice in this world both Cotillard and Schoenaerts would have been nominated for the Oscars.
Ahhh, I loved this. Incredibly moving, beautifully performed, exquisitely shot. A fantastic follow-up to A Prophet. My review:
RUST AND BONE
Delving deep into metaphorically rich thematic territory with refreshing rawness, Jacques Audiard's rough and brawny pic Rust and Bone, adapted from Craig Davidson's short story collection of the same name, packs a poetic punch that shatters the emotional barriers the movie fortifies so diligently throughout. By affixing the emotional armour of the main characters to the dramatic fabric of the movie itself, Audiard connects the onscreen experience to the one we're having in the audience. We move in emotional tandem with the characters, an approach that's quite daring given the challenges these characters face and the refusal of Audiard to soften them in the midst of their arcs.
We first meet Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts), a penniless ex-boxer suddenly saddled with his estranged five-year-old son Sam (Armand Verdure), whose mother has been abruptly removed from the picture before we even first glimpse these guys. Ali and Sam shack up with Ali's also estranged sister Anna (Corinne Masiero), whose generosity eases Ali's burden of responsibility. As Ali begins to settle into this new life, he crosses paths with Stéphanie (Marion Cotillard), a killer whale trainer whose work at a Marineland aquarium is scored to Katy Perry's pop hit "Firework." Meeting Stéphanie allows the narrative to explore a new path that initially remains almost entirely separate from Ali's. But when Stéphanie suffers a tragic accident on the job, she reconnects with Ali.
Audiard takes his time giving each actor the space to flesh out their character before letting them collide again. Schoenaerts and Cotillard define Ali and Stéphanie independently of each other, so they feel wholly immersed in their own worlds prior to their next encounter. Their arcs can be clearly seen existing without the inevitable entwining, which gives the actors and their characters a freedom that puts them in control of their own fates. By establishing them separately instead of developing at least one character in relation to the other, Audiard balances the journeys of his potentially romantic leads and then hurls them together in a manner that is honest and authentically awkward.
Ali really has no better sense of how to be in a romantic relationship than he does of how to be a parent. He's a scavenger who takes what he can get and commitment is an almost alien concept to him. He seems nearly clueless as to Stéphanie's expectations of their relationship and yet he's usually quite respectful and kind around her. This confusion leads to complexities in characterization that allow Ali and Schoenaerts to avoid typical macho clichés. He seems to genuinely like Stéphanie, but he can't articulately access the necessary emotions. He's a fighter at heart and his emotional range seems to vacillate between apathy and rage, with no subtlety in between.
Stéphanie doesn't suffer from such a narrow emotional spectrum, but as she comes to terms with the loss caused by her accident, she finds herself struggling to connect to others. She seems to fit quite naturally with Ali, either physically in his arms or psychologically in his presence. And yet their individual challenges mark considerable obstacles, realizing their different situations as puzzle pieces that need to be snapped into place, possibly with great force. Stéphanie is the physically broken woman to Ali's emotionally broken man. As the space between their arcs tightens, the strength they draw from each other becomes apparent. And even then, Audiard remains steadfast in his decision to not soften the characters and let them slip together.
This decision leaves the narrative space wild and open as it solidifies the influence Ali and Stéphanie have on the narrative. They're not being guided through any predictable emotions here, but rather embarking on their own journeys of which they feel realistically in control. It's a bold move by Audiard to give the characters so much room and to hold off with the emotional catharsis for so long, but Schoenaerts and Cotillard are so devastating in their performances that they keep the dramatic pulse from slowing. When it comes time for Ali to finally access that well of untapped emotion we know must be there, the powerful transformation, marked physically as well as emotionally in a nod to the harmonious balance the characters represent throughout, feels entirely earned.
The theme of brokenness inspires moving metaphors as the solidity of the characters begins to reveal the need to break what cannot be seemingly shaped otherwise. Ali doesn't know how to change and yet the rage that boils within him becomes the weapon he needs to desperately break down the walls of emotional defense. In one of the movie's strongest scenes, Ali uses his finest physical asset, his fists, to literally and figuratively destroy the space between him and his love. It's a fitting way to achieve this goal for a guy like Ali, but just as importantly, it tethers his arc to Stéphanie's by making the physical sacrifice a sort of shared rite of passage. These characters break before they bend.
Brought to sparkling, glittering life by cinematographer Stéphane Fontaine, whose use of bright bursts of natural light brings a visual optimism to the often dark material, Rust and Bone is grittily gorgeous. The stories of Ali and Stéphanie are quietly devastating and yet powerfully hopeful in their embrace of emotional and physical synergy. Audiard has made a stunner here by seeking and achieving a complex dramatic payoff and trusting his phenomenal cast to deliver it just in time. Bruised and broken on the inside and outside, Ali and Stéphanie both need each other in order to heal. The process moves slowly as the camera captures and communicates the collision of these two individuals, who find in each other a glimmer of hope and the necessary tether of love that connects and combines them, body and soul.
Great write-up, Aaron.
I loved this film, too! The performances from both leads were incredible.
Great review, Aaron! Thanks for that. It made me remind how much I really love this film. The more I think about it, the better it gets.
Without a doubt. I was laughing out loud in the theatre.
T E A M R I V E T T E
Wonderful review Aaron !
This material could've gone wrong in so many ways, and yet Audiard anchors it in reality, with such subtle honesty. It meanders (like life), and the catharsis at the end is wholly deserved (and shattering). With this and Bullhead, Schoenarts has had an amazing year ... and for me this is Cotillard's greatest performance, by far. I've yet to see Amour, but these two actors should be at (or near) the very top of acting lists this year.
Thanks so much, WOV, VSW, and Buster! Greatly appreciated.
I love that I can share my adoration for this movie with you all here. This is such a powerful little gem of a movie.
I quite enjoyed this film, the main characters were so imperfect and flawed and yet, so captivating and oddly touching? The physical and emotional levels of their relationship was just fascinating, and really, the ending reminded me of La Strada. It's not a direct mirror to that film, but the emotions Schoenaerts brings out at the end are... wow. And Marion is so much better an actress in French!
Last five movies seen:
Valhalla Rising (2009) ** 1/2
Young Adult (2011) *
How I Ended This Summer (2010) *1/2
Biutiful (2010) **1/2
Iron Man 3 (2013) **
I adored this. Didn't know much of anything going in, but I thought it was fantastic. I loved it.
Even though this has really good reviews, I kept hearing that its a love it or hate it type of movie so I went in with reservations.
And it's a top 5 of the year for me. Loved it. Loved the strange, unpredictable nature of the story.loved the flawed characters. Loved the performances. Loved the whale at the glass scene. Loved the Fireworks scene. I was just very absorbed into this. So glad I finally got around to it.
This scene keeps popping up in my mind over and over. Such a powerful scene. Cotillard really was robbed.
The final hand signal she makes, throwing her arm up, causing the orca to swim away (and off-screen) is a beautiful way of portraying her goodbye to this world. The following scene where she's with her former co-workers, you can tell her heart's not there anymore. She knows she doesn't belong.
T E A M R I V E T T E
A few months on from seeing this it still lingers in the mind.
I remember feeling not dissimilar to VSW wondering where precisely the plot was going, which I guess demonstrates its originality as a movie.
The acting is first rate and both Cotillard and Schoenaerts were sensational. Really my favourite two performances of the year. The scene when Marion realises she has lost her legs is a remarkable feat of acting. I've always been struck by how much she communicates about her character's emotion through her face.
First class film making.
I loved this film.
Marion and Schonaerts were outstanding. Probably my favorite performances of the year so far (Still many films yet to see).
And what a breakthrough year for Matthias! After Bullhead and this I'm looking forward to his next film.
Very beautifully put, Aaron.Originally Posted by Aaron Leggo