Film Review: Rust And Bone

In 2008 Marion Cotillard won the Best Actress Oscar and yet, since then her star seems to have hardly risen. She’s been in some big name movies: Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, Public Enemies to name three, but she’s always been hiding in the back, a small supporting player, forgotten for the talent she really is.

And it’s annoying, because when she does get a chance to shine she truly is stunning. Her portrayal of Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose won her an Oscar, she was nominated again for her lead in Two Days, One Night and sandwiched between the two is Rust And Bone. A film in which she plays an amputee Ocra trainer and a performance that cements her in my heart as a hidden gem that deserves a greater audience. Because Marion Cotillard can act and deserves to lead the line.

Marion Cotillard - Rust And Bone

She is so powerful in Rust and Bone that she draws you into the film and holds you there. Her character, Stéphanie, feels so real that you completely forget that you are watching a performance. In fact, the entire film feels that way. You know it’s a story, that there are cameras and a film crew behind your eyes so to speak but what you see and witness just feels true. You collapse willingly into the world around Cotillard and never question for one minute the legitimacy of it.

And it’s really surprising considering that the film is gritty and dark and in places seriously difficult to watch. Once I had fallen into it’s grasp, once emotionally it had got under my skin it managed to play with me and twist me as much as it liked. The general tone of the movie being a combination of bleakness and strength that work together to make you feel warmth and pride, love and loyalty in it’s highs but then, when it wants to shock you, it really shocks you. It may only be a fleeting word, a brief action, but it almost repulses you with just how polarised a single action can be in the bigger picture.

Rust And Bone takes characters that have won you over and made you empathise with them and then, for a flirting second makes you hate them. And honestly it gives you that sharp intake of breath, that little knot in your stomach and makes you consciously think “you really didn’t just do that?”. It’s some power.

Matthias Schoenaerts - Rust And Bone

Opposite Cotillard is Matthias Schoenaerts who plays Alain, and as a character is likeable but hard to figure out. His motives just never felt clear and when the film wants to wind you up he is usually the main protagonist. His performance is good, but having never seem him act before it’s impossible to compare with any conviction exact, but I can say that he never felt over shadowed by Cotillard and visually fitted the gritty, dirty, broken tone of the film. Even if at times, I would have preferred his role in the relationship with Coillard’s character to not swing so wildly hot and cold so quickly.

While it’s main performances are brilliant, drawing you into the story and conveying every emotion needed with power, I sadly, didn’t really like the story. It all seemed just a bit to convoluted and confusing. While the emotions of the characters are easy to understand, their actions are just a little bit too removed from my normality to put with them. I wouldn’t act or do in the way or manner that they do and so I find it difficult to comprehend that others would either.

I also hate the ending, mainly because it doesn’t seem to make sense, or be in keeping with the rest of the film. There is an inner strength and dark muscle to the film that is suddenly lost. It all becomes a bit too nice and clean compared to what has gone before and the fact that it’s such a seemingly unexplained shift in narrative tone, it just left me feeling a little bit uneasy as to how it suddenly got there. It’s almost a happy ever after ending that feels like it’s been tacked on because somebody else wrote that bit without looking at everything else.

Foreign Language Film - Rust And Bone

I should point out that Rust And Bone is a foreign film, in a scary foreign language. But as with most films not in the English language, it’s not scary, rather it’s another cracking example of why foreign film making is arguably a better source of realism than anything Hollywood can create. Yes there are subtitles, but you read them, and your senses come alive as you are forced to focus on everything rather than just drifting into the dialogue. Dragged into a world that feels European but accessible. Rather than Hollywood and CGI.

I truly can’t make my mind up about Rust And Bone because it has a plot that seems implausible to me, yet it is set in a world that feels so real and with characters that grabbed me so much I have come away completely captivated and yet also slightly bored. I would happily watch it again, I would happily watch Cotillard’s performance again, but I just think it’s going to be a film that lives falsely in my mind, thought of and remembered for a single exceptional element rather than the greater picture as a whole.

8 out of 10 stars (8 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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