Starring: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Shoenaerts, Armand Verdure
Director: Jacques Audiard
Running Time: 117 mins
Rust And Bone (De rouille et d’os) is a French film about a man who forms a strong bond with a killer whale trainer who suffers a horrific accident.
This is a pretty difficult film. It kicks off with a striking and very heavy-going opening act, and although it does gradually brighten, the misery and struggling of the main characters almost always overpowered that. That said, it is an engaging watch, and thanks to a well-written screenplay, two strong performances and eye-catching directing, Rust And Bone turns out as an impressive, if not flawed, drama.
Let’s start with Jacques Audiard’s directing, arguably the best part of this film. In keeping with the generally downbeat tone of the movie, Audiard constructs his scenes with expert precision. When things are going wrong, the images do look overtly dark and gloomy, and that atmosphere is reinforced by the use of shaky cam to give a greater sense of unease and uncertainty.
On the other hand, he does a great job of making the happy scenes feel happy. I can completely understand if you found a great amount of joy and hope when watching Rust And Bone, because there are a lot of underlying features that give it a more positive tone. Once again, Audiard uses more stable camerawork, and uses much more visually striking and bright settings to mirror happier emotions in certain scenes, and it really works the charm when you need a glimmer of hope in this dark story.
That story does start off really far down in the depths of darkness. From a pretty devastating opening act that shows the effect of this woman’s accident, that sense of pain doesn’t really move away for a very long time. It’s a testament to the screenplay and the directing that that atmosphere does linger for such a long time, and it’s by far the most emotionally impacting part of the whole movie.
The following two acts don’t quite live up to the power of that beginning, even though the film does try to reintroduce similar incidents, and as such it can feel a little bit plain. I was definitely engaged, and the development of the relationship between the two main characters through its ups and downs was compelling, but I just felt that there was a noticeable lack of really powerful emotion as the film moved along.
Finally, the two lead performances are excellent. Marion Cotillard proves once again what a brilliant actress she is by taking on a very challenging role, and delivering realistic emotion to the highest level. Meanwhile, her co-star, Matthias Schoenaerts, is impressive too, putting in an excellent turn as a morally dubious man who, despite being charming and helpful to Cotillard’s character, has a questionable home life, and Schoenaerts does a great job at making it tough for you to either fully support or write off this man.
Overall, I was impressed by Rust And Bone. Its story could have been more powerful and engrossing as in its second and third acts, but thanks to a striking first act, expert direction and great performances, this was ultimately a good film, and that’s why it gets a 7.3 from me.