Rust And Bone (De Rouille Et D'Os) (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner02/11/2012

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 123 mins

Superbly directed, strikingly shot and sharply written, this is a powerfully emotional French drama with intriguing characters and a pair of terrific performances from Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts.

What's it all about?
Directed by Jacques Audiard (A Prophet), Rust and Bone (De Rouille et d’Os, original title fans) is loosely based on short stories by Craig Davidson and stars Matthias Schoenaerts (who looks a bit like a French Jeremy Sisto) as Ali, a penniless single father who hitchhikes to the south of France with his young son Sam (Armand Verdure), in the hopes of living with his sister and her husband (Corinne Masiero and Jean-Michel Correia) while he tries to make money as a street fighter. While working as a bouncer, Ali meets killer whale trainer Stephanie (Marion Cotillard) and when she suffers a terrible work accident, the pair develop a tentative friendship.

The Good
Schoenaerts is terrific, ensuring that Ali remains likeable, despite some occasionally unsympathetic behaviour on his part; it's made clear throughout that, although he loves his son, he has a fair amount of growing up to do himself. Cotillard is equally good, delivering a powerful performance filled with both anger and heartbreaking vulnerability; as such, it's a turn that could well land her another Oscar nomination. In addition, young Verdure is adorable as Sam and there's strong support from both Masiero and Correia, while Bouli Lanners puts in an effective turn as Ali's fight arranger.

The script is superb, exploring an intriguing central relationship in challenging ways, while managing to sell the harder-to-swallow elements of the story (such as the extent of the interest that Steph takes in Ali's street-fighting) that are a consequence of blending different short stories.

The Great
The film is beautifully shot, courtesy of Stéphane Fontaine's striking cinematography and there's a terrific score by Alexandre Desplat, as well as an inspired use of Katy Perry's 'Firework' that works brilliantly. Similarly, Audiard's direction is assured throughout, blending dark humour, powerful emotion, violence and moments of heart-stopping suspense, as well as presenting some refreshingly offbeat sex scenes that are subtly groundbreaking in their taboo-busting attitude.

On top of that, Audiard orchestrates some brilliantly memorable sequences, such as a beautifully shot scene where Steph returns to work after her accident and a heart-stopping final act.

Worth seeing?
Rust And Bone is an impressively directed, superbly written and brilliantly acted French drama that packs a powerful emotional punch. Highly recommended.

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Rust And Bone (De Rouille Et D'Os) (15)
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