Rust and Bone (15)
Jacques Audiard’s latest is an instant classic – a no-holds-barred drama/romance with a central performance from Marion Cotillard that is as unforgettable as it is courageous and in your face.
As Steph, a whale trainer at a water park in Antibes who suffers a catastrophic injury, Cotillard would be expected to run the standard gamut of emotions as this vibrant lass experiences hurt, shame, disbelief, fury and frustration.
What she cannot expect is to receive a new lease of life courtesy of a momentary meeting with a feckless drifter, Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) who, reuniting with her several months later, has neither baggage nor history with her.
Thus this odd couple – she embarking on a new life, he ricocheting around with a young son in tow who he palms off on his sister – grow ever closer without even discussing love or the feelings that should accompany it.
There are shades of David Cronenberg’s Crash within Rust and Bone but Audiard never goes for horror or exploitation. Instead this is a tale of broken people – in Cotillard’s case, literally – finding fulfilment and focus in amongst the wreckage of their lives.
Audiard and screenwriter Thomas Bidegain don’t seek to make either Steph or Ali wholesome or particularly likeable. She’s a woman who knows the effect she has on men and it’s her confidence and sexuality that take a battering when she is injured. He is a violent loner – a mix of brutality, pragmatism and surprising tenderness.
That unusual dynamic is at the heart of Rust and Bone. Steph neither expects nor receives pity from Ali and their relationship is all the more plausible for it. The chemistry is pure and magical.
A magnificent motion picture with two stunning performances at its heart, this is surely one of the big Oscar contenders for 2103 not least for Cotillard’s thick-skinned heroine – a modern girl who refuses to give in to physical and sexual frailties.