Directed by Jacques Audiard, Rust and Bone is based on Craig Davidson‘s short story collection of the same name. The film follows killer whale trainer Stephanie (Marion Cotillard) who, after suffering a horrible accident that has left her with a life-changing disability, finds friendship in Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts), a street fighter who has been put in charge of his young son after leaving Belgium to live with his sister and her family.
First off, I have been watching the trailer for this film for months, but Rust and Bone wasn’t what I was expecting at all. This is both a good and a bad thing.
The soundtrack (excluding Katy Perry) and cinematography are huge qualities of the film. Together they create a beautiful piece of filmmaking, but I was hoping for more underwater scenes with the orcas which I think would have really benefited the film and strengthened its premise. Instead, we were faced with more of a focus on the male character, and whilst the scenes with his son provoke a lot of emotion, the scenes of fighting didn’t give the contrast I was hoping for. The violence loses the film’s allure that it started off with, focusing on a less appealing side to the film then it started off with and losing its focus on Stephanie and Ali’s relationship, and on Stephanie altogether.
In the end, it was all just a bit too random, as the accident turns Cotillard’s character to the oddest of situations. A mix of contrasting scenarios that have no real connection at all, the film is just a series of different events that help both characters deal with their physical and emotional limitations. It has heart, there’s denying that, but it felt far too scattered to me.
It’s the acting that stands out, though. Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts are both excellent, each giving very natural and intensely moving performances. But, again, I was expecting more passion in their relationship so I was somewhat let down by that. Whilst the relationship that begins to evolve between them helps Stephanie to deal with her disability, there was nothing else to it until the very end, which by this point had lost all its impact. It is a romance of rehabilitation, but not a romance, and barely a love story at all. Scoenaerts’ character is far too selfish to feel any engagement in their chemistry, so it was difficult to feel compelled by them. Despite this, Cotillard is one of my favourite actresses so it was hard not to fall in love with her performance and, therefore, find some parts of the story quite moving.
Overall, the film just didn’t have the captivating power that I was so ready to feel from it. I just expected a little more from the trailers, as the story stretched out lost the effect that the trailers managed to capture in a couple of minutes. For me, it was the change in character focus where it went wrong for me, but it’s still a very tense drama that is undoubtedly worth the watch.