Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Genre: Drama, Romance, Foreign
Run Time: 2 hours, Rated R
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts, Armand Verdure, Celine Sallette
Co-Written and Directed by Jacques Audiard (A Prophet, Read My Lips, See How They Fall)
Rust and Bone is a French-Belgian love story based on a short story collection by author Craig Davidson. The lovely Marion Cotillard stars as Stephanie, a killer whale trainer who falls in love with Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts). Ali has a young son, Sam (Armand Verdure) in his keep and they move in with Ali's sister while Ali tries to find work.
He's a rough guy, who one might call street tough. Bouncing at a club, he meets Stephanie and the two form a bond. Tragically, Stephanie is injured in a freak accident involving the killer whale she trains (although, can it be described as an "accident?" The name of the animal, after all, is a "killer" whale. Just saying).
The accident doesn't slow down their relationship. They get together every so often - intimately - despite Stephanie's depression that has a hold of her.
I'm being purposely vague as to the nature of the accident. This accident and its effects on the couple though, borders on exploitation. We are supposed to be shocked that these two carry on, in Stephanie's condition.
At the heart of any good romance are two actors with chemistry. Cotillard and Schoenaerts create very little. Cotillard gives a strong performance as a damsel in which we never quite understand, but her role is also very one-note. And by the way, why in the world would she be attracted to this vile dude? Ali is not a very loyal guy, not to mention that his place in life could lead some to refer to him as a total loser. She is desperate and in need of a helping hand to stand on her own two feet, so to speak. But she has to know that there are better crutches out there than a guy who street fights for a living.
This was the fatal flaw for me, with Rust and Bone. I never believed what these characters supposedly saw in each other. Much of their relationship is meant to be shocking, I think, but rather, it comes across as boring and gimmick-y.
Rust and Bone is as forgettable a film as you'll ever see, breaking little ground in the romance genre. But there is some effective imagery and some great actors doing what they can with limited characters. It's equivalent to a trashy romance novel one may pickup at the airport and leave at the terminal: Interesting enough to occupy your time for a bit, but little lasting value.
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