Two actors make a good film a fantastic one
, 18 Nov 2012
Theres a moment towards the end of Rust And Bone when something awful happens, and we are about to witness the ultimate tragedy. For that couple of minutes, the rest of the movie becomes irrelevant; we are just totally immersed in this act playing out. Its a brutal but wonderful sequence and, fortunately, its not the first time we have such a scene in the movie. Thats pretty much what Rust And Bone is: a series of wonderfully brutal sequences.
The movie deals with the relationship between two fragile individuals from opposite ends of life. Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) is trying to be a better father and a better man; Stephanie (Marion Cotillard) is trying to rebuild her shattered life after a horrific accident. Their need for each other grows drastically, but their real lives threaten to get in the way.
As far as storylines go, this isnt anything overly special. Its the kind of kitchen sink drama that weve seen Ken Loach and Mike Leigh do for ages. Fragile characters, broken homes, comedy out of tragedy, its the usual stuff. Only difference here is that were seeing it all play out in France, with French people speaking French and doing French things. But frankly, nothing is original these days; what matters more is the execution.
And what sets Rust And Bone apart from other similarly-themed movies is the execution. Working class France is shot brilliantly, looking gorgeous and despairing all at the same time. The special effects are top-notch, and there is a somewhat jarring quality to the editing that really works.
But what you really need to see this film for is Cotillard and Schoenaerts. I was trying to decide who I thought was the better actor in the film, but its impossible to choose. They are both fantastic. Ive never seen Matthias Schoenaerts before, but the guy is amazing. He manages to juggle pain and deadpan humour simultaneously, which is quite an achievement. Cotillard, meanwhile, is the usual perfect self that she is. Such an expressive face, and shes able to make even the hokiest of lines come off natural and genuine. I really didnt like her in The Dark Knight Rises but, clearly, shes at her best when shes speaking her natural language. They are what make these sequences brutal and wonderful, through their chemistry and ability to suck the audience in.
The rest of the film is scattered with great supporting cast performances, especially Armand Verdure as Alis son Sam. The young boy is a joy to watch, and can be added to that ever-growing list of strong pre-teen child actors.
Im pretty sure Rust And Bone has won a few awards, and deservedly so. Its amazing to watch, just because its so fun to see brilliant performances. Like I said before, the story itself isnt probably that amazing. Its been done before; but its done in such a way here, with those two central performances, that it feels fresh and original. You really should check it out.
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