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Rust and Bone - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Rust and Bone
Directing: B
Acting: B+
Writing: C+
Cinematography: B
Editing: B-

There's a fair number of people raving about Rust and Bone -- and a few not -- but I'm just not feeling it. I mean, it's not bad. It's fine. I saw it, was engaged, I'll forget about it tomorrow and probably not think about it ever again.

Marion Cotillard is good in everything she's in. Unfortunately, the one thing that makes her stand out here is she plays a woman who loses her legs from just above the knees in a Sea World-type park accident.

I wish Rust and Bone were a little more straightforward. It's pretty coy about this accident. There's nothing explicit about its presentation, only stylized jump cuts. Images here and there. We know Stéphanie works at this park and works with orca whales. One of the whales jumps a bit too hard onto the stage. Stuff gets hit. Next thing we know, we're under water. Pieces of debris are falling in the water. There is one shot of Stéphanie submerged, from beneath her. Her limbs are intact.

How the hell does she lose her legs, exactly? The movie never reveals this. Next thing we know, we see Stéphanie in a hospital bed, panicking when she wakes up and finds her legs gone. There is a flashback-like shot a little later that shows orca teeth. Did one of them just swim by and chomp her legs off? I guess so.

Perhaps director and co-writer Jacques Audiard just didn't think this was a particularly relevant detail. This is a story about a semi-deadbeat dad (Matthias Schoenaerts) falling for this recently disabled woman. Alain goes through several jobs, and in one he is a bouncer at a club, and he helps Stéphanie after she gets in a fight with a guy in the club. She has her legs at this point. We don't even see that she's an orca trainer until Alain takes her home and sees her apartment. She has a boyfriend there, or so it seems. He never really pops up again. Maybe he bailed after the accident. Stéphanie never mentions it.

Most of the movie is just tracking a budding friendship between these two people. Stéphanie is self-conscious, as anyone in her position likely would be. Alain is ridiculously casual. When Stéphanie admits she hasn't had sex since before the accident and isn't even sure if everything still works (why wouldn't it?), Alain says, "Want to fuck? Then you can see if it still works." Stéphanie is shocked by this suggestion. I kind of thought, Did she stop being French? Evidently not, because she goes for it.

The story takes weird turns. Alain finds the best money seems to be in both helping install illegal surveillance systems so store managers can spy on their employees, and street fighting. Ultimately, Stéphanie is handling the betting personally. Really?

What impressed me the most about Rust and Bone was how realistic Stéphanie's legs looked. They are seen a great many times; I woldn't say that Audiard obsesses over them, but he never shies away from them. It's impossible to forget Stéphanie's handicap. Honestly, this probably shouldn't be the most impressive thing about the movie.

Alain has a five-year-old boy, and he's living with his sister and her husband. He's flaky. After running off and leaving the son with his sister, some time goes by and suddenly the boy is being dropped for a visit in a snowy area where Alain is training for a fight. He takes the boy sledding and there is a harrowing scene where the boy predictably falls through the ice on a lake. It's a very well executed scene but the point of it was kind of lost on me.

I think some of this might just be lost in translation. This can easily happen with foreign films, even Western European ones. There's a fair amount of this movie that I just don't get. I can't pinpoint any truly fundamental flaws, and by and large it's put together well enough. I did want something more from it than it gave me. But it wasn't bad.

Matthias Schoenaerts and Marion Cotillard are a couple of broken people in RUST AND BONE.</a>

Overall: B-
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