Director: Jacques Audiard
Stars: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts
Ali (Schoenaerts) is a primal, tempestuous man who goes to live with his sister after rescuing his son from his ex. He gets a job as a bouncer from a nightclub and saves Stéphanie (Cotillard) from a brawl. Later on, she suffers an accident that causes her to lose her legs. With no-one else to turn to, she forms a bond with Ali.
Rust and Bone features complex characters that a played perfectly. I’m sure we’re all aware of Cotillard’s talent, and she again gives a nuanced performance as the physically-crippled woman who has to find strength in her weakness. She contrasts with the emotionally-crippled Ali, and I’m sure Schoenaerts will break through in Hollywood soon. He’s a brittle powerhouse, filled with anger who manages to screw up all of his personal relationships and does some really horrible things.
The two of them are bonded together though, and their weaknesses actually complement each other. Ali’s insensitive nature is good for Stéphanie because she doesn’t want to be pandered to, and Stéphanie bring out a gentler side to Ali. I did find Stéphanie a more interesting character though, and the film dragged when she wasn’t on the screen. However, she’s more isolated and the dramatic moments happen with Ali, so it’s a decent balance, and Al is one of those flawed characters that you almost don’t want to watch or succeed, but then you want him to redeem himself as well.
The direction was good, mostly it was focused on the characters but occasionally Audiard indulged himself, resulting some beautiful visuals, including a powerful and intense whale dance. The use of famous pop songs in the soundtrack will help people who ordinarily don’t watch foreign films to become invested as well.
I liked this one quite a bit. It is a character drama but it’s not dull and there are moments of very visceral action. There’s some depth and symbolism in the characters’ relationship as well, although I would have liked a bit more effort to show growth in Ali so we could empathise with him some more towards the end. But it’s definitely worth watching if you like the concept of two people who are broken in different ways finding and helping each other.