Fans of melodrama will delight in “Rust and Bone,” the newest flick from renowned French film director Jacques Audiard. The French–language film spares no opportunity for passionate (and often sweaty) on–screen action in its raw and sentimental portrayal of two lovers lost in their own brutish and tragic circumstances. However, Audiard’s knack for naturalism (see his previous “A Prophet”) cannot rescue the story from an inherent lack of character and plot depth, which fail to ground the viewer in the film’s world.
Audiard’s latest fare follows the story of nearly–destitute Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts), a bouncer turned underground kick boxer, and Stéphanie (Marion Cotillard), a killer whale trainer. Soon after they meet, Stéphanie loses her legs in a freak killer whale accident, and in an act of desperation reaches out to Ali for support. Their relationship quickly grows intimate, though Ali proves to be cold and hurtful despite their increasing closeness.
In essence, “Rust and Bone” is the love story of an unlikely pair who help each other heal. Yet the various facets of the storyline are simply not explored far enough, nor the characters deep enough, for the audience to feel the film’s truthfulness. For example, we are largely left in the dark as to Ali’s circumstances before arriving in southern France. Nevertheless, an interesting pop/orchestral soundtrack as well as powerful performances from both Cotillard and Schoenaerts helps Audiard achieve the intriguing rawness that he does so well.
Directed by Jacques Audiard
Starring Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts, Armand Verdure