Director: Jacques Audiard
Cast: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts, Armand Verdure
Running Time: 120 mins
Plot: When Alain is left to be the sole carer of his young son, his inadequacy as a father takes them to live with his sister and her husband in France. Whilst there, Alain befriends Stéphanie, a killer whale trainer. After she suffers a life-changing accident, their friendship begins to blossom.
This is a story about two obviously flawed characters, with good intentions, who form an unbreakable bond when their respective worlds are falling down around them. It is an existential drama, which is a genre more associated with British cinema of late, but Audiard proves that whatever the British can do, the French can match, if not surpass. Having often seen the sheer beauty France is known for, it is a relatively new experience to see a light shone on the bleaker parts of its society.
RUST AND BONE is a character-driven film, with both Alain and Stéphanie frequently being put under the magnifying glass, revealing their worst failings and greatest strengths. Alain has a foul temper he struggles to maintain, even around his young son, and Stéphanie is significantly weakened by her horrible accident. However, they complement each other, as he is a strong physical presence for her, and she helps him to develop mentally.
Cotillard and Schoenaerts are very convincing, in what must have been very challenging roles to portray. To realistically convey a relationship between two obscure characters, placed in extreme circumstances, must have been difficult too, but they look, feel and sound completely natural together throughout. One potentially tricky scene takes place when Alain and Stéphanie attempt to have sex for the first time after her accident, but rather than being uncomfortable to watch, it is surprisingly poignant.
There are no easy answers, or easy anything for that matter, when it comes to RUST AND BONE, but there are two well-rounded main characters. As the audience witnesses the traumatising changes that shape them, an intimate rapport is formed between them and the characters, resemblant of the one Alain and Stéphanie have with each other.