Rust and Bone: a bleak but inspiring love story
Rust and Bone
Directed by Jacques Audiard
Release date March 28
Set in Antibes in the south of France, Rust and Bone follows the fortunes of Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts), who has fallen on hard times and is starting to put his life together working as a bouncer.
One night he comes to the aid of Stephanie (Marion Cotillard), an orca trainer at the local Oceanworld.
In what seems like a separate story we watch Stephanie’s world unravel as she is involved in a tragedy at the centre – she loses her legs when an orca attacks her during a performance.
She makes contact with Ali, whose life is improving as he is now working in security and also as a street kickboxer. The two damaged people form a relationship which is mutually dependent on the development of Ali’s career and her rehabilitation.
The film is based on series of short stories by the American writer Craig Davidson. Ali and Stephanie are not actually in the stories but the film-makers used ideas about the realities of the modern world and the way a man finds a means of redeeming himself and finding a place in society by fighting.
The two characters seem ill-matched, with very different perspectives on the world, but it is these differences which help them understand each other. For Ali, sex is merely a physical activity and has no connection with commitment. But for Stephanie it is a way to make herself whole.
He is psychologically damaged, building his life through his physical success as a boxer. She is physically damaged and builds her life though a psychological transformation... They both have to learn about trust and commitment in their own way.
Audiard developed an engaging form of cinematography, with sudden cuts combined with slow fades and transitions which give the film an expressionist quality.
He says he wanted a film that “shows the world through the eyes of a confused child”. But he also sees it as a film that “underscores the nobleness of the characters in a world made violent by economic disaster. And it respects Ali and Stephanie’s stubborn attempts to transcend their condition”.
One of the intriguing aspects is that Marion Cotillard plays the part of the amputee even though she is not. In all the scenes which show her amputated legs, including some steamy bedroom romps, the stumps were created with computer-generated images.