Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Rust and Bone

By Sati. Wednesday, November 21, 2012 , , , , , , ,


Rust and Bone is one of those movies that tell the story of two wounded people who find each other. She trains killer whales at the aquarium and performs shows with them. He is an amateur boxer who is a single father without any money, forced to move in with his estranged sister. He takes a job as a bouncer in the bar and one night a woman is punched in the face - it is Stephanie. He offers to drive her to house, on the way there being rude to her, saying that she is dressed like a slut. They get to her house, where her boyfriend argues with her in front of him, after which he leaves, having left his phone number.

Some time after that Stephanie suffers a terrible accident, when the platform at the aquarium collapses - the result is the loss of both of her legs. Helpless and vulnerable, she calls Ali and invites him over. That is how their peculiar relationship begins, as gradually Stephanie learns how to live her life after the terrible loss and Ali becomes more human and aware of other people's feelings. Well, a little bit more human, but still not good enough for me.

The film is very uneven - the direction is very good but it is the script that is the main problem of the movie. Had the film focused on Stephanie, it could have been something really wonderful, unfortunately we switch back and forth between Stephanie's story and Ali's scenes. And it's the latter that is a major problem - Ali is not only a despicable character, his scenes are all over the place. He doesn't really have a single redeeming quality - he is selfish, he beats his young son and avoids spending time with him and he shows no gratitude to anyone that helps him.

In addition, several things already established in the film keep coming up again for no reason at all - we already know Ali is self centered and steals, yet there is a whole plot involving him stealing things from where his sister works which results in him being kicked out of his sister's place. If that is something the writer wanted to happen, a better and much more understandable and not time consuming plot point would be to have that happen permanently after his sister witnesses him beating up his son.

While it is through Ali that Stephanie eventually finds strength and the reason to live, it's not really a thing that made me care for him. He doesn't really help her in the sense that he sees this woman and wants to make her feel better. He spends time with her because she calls him and he has nothing better to do. You would think that the man would want to find a better job and spend time with his son, but no, he just hangs with Stephanie, swimming in the ocean.

But for me the lowest of low was when after Stephanie helped him when he was boxing and they went to the bar with his friends. He is there with this woman, obviously everyone thinks she is his girlfriend, including her and then he just walks away with some floozy. He is completely oblivious and clueless of how wrong it is - one can argue that he doesn't even see Stephanie's disability - to be completely honest I do not know anyone who would let an amputee swim in the ocean, without even knowing if it's safe yet he just puts her n the water. On the other hand there are some positives to him treating Stephanie like any other woman in his life, she doesn't feel like an outcast because of him - but let's get it straight - he treats women like objects who mean absolutely nothing to him.
Stephanie was a very admirable character and if the film just focused on her and ended differently it could have been amazing. Instead I was actually very depressed about its "happy ending". Stephanie is obviously a strong person - she has her issues, as everyone, but she has this confidence and strength inside her. She is proud and why shouldn't see be - she is smart, tough and beautiful. After the loss of her legs she obviously becomes depressed and although her connection to Ali helps her, the fact she ended up with him made me feel as if she just settled for it  - she has a new job, she has someone in her life but that someone is a selfish person and no amount of beautiful cinematography in the ending will convince me that he is changed and responsible now.

The truth is that Stephanie from before the accident would never want to spent her life with this low life who doesn't even respect her as his girlfriend and he is - quite simply - too daft to even wonder if he respects her as a human being. Yet after she becomes disabled, it is as if she thought nothing better will ever happen to her. That is very depressing. It is obvious in the movie that Stephanie has people in her life who care for her and while they may look at her with occasional pity - something Ali never does - I doubt they would leave her alone in the bar or throw their kid on the table so he hits his head.
Had the film ended with them just being friends that would be great, because apparently Stephanie needs rough Ali in her life to push her when she feels sorry for her. But why make this strong woman into this man's girlfriend and turn it into love story? That was a big problem for me with this film. Also many times I was extremely confused by the characters doing what they are doing - there is some charm in feeling as an observer to only certain events in characters' lives but most of the time I was extremely puzzled about what was happening. Both Ali and Stephanie repeatedly act as if they care more or less about each other than it was previously established. In one moment they did something that would suggest they have no feelings for each other, in other they acted as if there was love between them. I couldn't buy the way the emotional connection worked in this movie at all.

Maybe it's all because I found Stephanie to be admirable character and Ali just a guy who really doesn't deserve much. The last part of the movie where the film focused on Ali was where the film literally collapsed on itself and it was as if some magical entity gave Ali the pass - something that would be extremely rare to happen in real life. He does something extremely stupid and irresponsible again and there are some tears and fear but ultimately he pays no price for his enormous mistake. He learns nothing and then we get the "happy" ending where his son and Stephanie adore him. Ridiculous.
It's almost as if they were forcing to make this movie into a romance for some strange reason. I'd much rather we saw more about Stephanie's feelings towards the fact she can no longer do what she loves. There are two beautiful scenes  in the movie that show that despite her accident (to be completely honest I'm still not sure whether her legs were smashed or bitten of by the whales - when she is in hospital there is this freaky scene with killer whales focusing on their teeth) she still loves these animals - she practices the gestures on the balcony and then she goes to aquarium and when she gestures, the whale reacts. Now she can no longer train the animals and she is Ali's boxing promoter. Something she clearly enjoys doing but it's not her dream choice.

What saves the movie is beautiful cinematography and very good direction. I also have to say that the CGI is amazing - Marion Cotillard really looks as if her legs were amputated and there is no usual trickery involved, when the characters without limbs are shot from strange angles - the movie never hides her disability and she looks incredibly realistic. There are also a very nice bits of foreshadowing here - for example when Ali is driving Stephanie home, she has a bit of blood on her knee. This is before her accident where she loses her legs in exactly this place.
In addition, there are several truly amazing scenes here but not even the beauty of them makes you forget about how much of a mess the film ultimately is. However, it is definitely worth seeing for the performances - despite me loathing the character of Ali, Matthias Schoenaerts does a very good job portraying him, but it's Marion Cotillard who steals the show as Stephanie in what may be her finest performance to date - it's hard for me to fully appreciate her work in La Vie on Rose when the film is so chaotic. Her Stephanie is this amazing person who loses a part of herself both physically and mentally but after a little encouragement, which she is not too proud to reject, she finds the will to live, even though the bitter truth is that she will never be completely the same.

Those two do an amazing job conveying the variety of emotions without uttering a single word - there is this amazing moment in the movie, where Ali is losing the fight but Stephanie gets out of the car and he sees her prosthetic legs and the fierce expression on her face that gives him the strength to win. He sees this incredible woman, who has been through so much and was able to find the will and the courage to go on and win her life back. At least to some extent. Both of those performances - Cotillard's especially - deserved much better movie. The film failed to move me, but Stephanie's story really interested me and I found her recovery to be very inspirational, regardless of the movie's ending. I know many out there found the film to beautiful and powerful, I would not use these to adjectives to described it, though. It is definitely worth seeing for Marion Cotillard's amazing work which is bound to make you forget (well, almost) about her last scene from The Dark Knight Rises.

De rouille et d'os (120 min, 2012) 
javascript:void(0); Plot: Put in charge of his young son, Ali leaves Belgium for Antibes to live with his sister and her husband as a family. Ali's bond with Stephanie, a killer whale trainer, grows deeper after Stephanie suffers a horrible accident.
Director: Jacques Audiard
Writers: Jacques Audiard (screenplay), Thomas Bidegain (screenplay) 
Stars: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts and Armand Verdure
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20 comments:

  1. Good review. I'd give it a similar rating. I too had problems with Ali and I really liked Stephanie and Cotillard was fabulous, along with the look of the film. But it was just missing something. The trailer was better, I swear to god.

    Maybe it's the story, as you said. The ending was quite blah too. I kept wanting more of Stephanie. The two scenes which people really liked- the Fireworks one and the one in which she gets out of the car during the boxing match, both didn't really work for me. In case of the first it was the song- it just kept going and I was so out of it. For the second it just felt so predictable, for what ended up being a wholly unpredictable film for me. What I did really love was when she meets the whale- so stunningly shot.

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, I actually liked the trailer better too ;)

      That ending was really bad, it didn't fit the movie at all. I agree - many said that they think the song was a great choice but I think the scene would worked well even accompanied by the silence.

      The scene with the whale was probably the best in the movie for me.

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  2. Fantastic review! Not sure what to make of this, but it seems like everyone is praising the performances, if not the film itself. Can't wait to see it! :)

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    1. Thank you! The film is worth seeing for performances but overall I was very dissapointed by it.

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  3. LOL, dat last scene of hers in The Dark Knight Rises.

    I've heard quite a mixed response about this film - some people loved it, some people were meh. It looks like something I'd like, but if Ali really is that self-centred, there could be a problem for me. But I'm all for another great Cotillard performance! Nice review!

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    1. Seriously, I'm doing my embarassing/best moments in TDKR now, that scene is number 1 :)

      He really is, I usually give people credit, miracoulasly, and when I want to like the movie I try hard to look for good qulities in them, but he really had none.

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  4. Fabulous review! It's beautifully written, thoughtful, and balanced, and the visuals are gorgeous. I'm puzzled about Ali's character. It's a tough sell introducing a character who abuses a child (or an animal). But it could've worked if they'd allowed his character to evolve in a more human direction. And pairing a strong female character with a bully? Ick.

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    1. Thank you so much! Yeah, he does evolve a little, but still, he is evolving from such an ass it was still difficult for me to get through this story :)

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  5. Right now, this is my favorite film of 2012 so far. Marion's performance is really intoxicating. She's my pick for Best Actress right now.

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    1. Glad you liked it this much! For me it's a tie between her and Rapace in Prometheus.

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  6. Great review! I really want to see this, but I have a feeling I will probably feel the same way about Ali as you did. It sounds so interesting.

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    1. Thanks! The story is interesting but he is a very unlikable character.

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  7. I'd heard some really good things about this but I had also heard some of the negatives you brought up, particularly about Ali. I still really want to see it, just a shame none of the cinemas near me were showing it. Brilliant review :)

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    1. Thank you! I think it's definetly worth seeing for Cotillard's performance.

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  8. Although I was much more taken with the film than you, I really enjoyed your analysis of it. And, of course, I'm glad you loved Marion's excellent performance. I really hope she has a fighting chance come Oscar time.

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    1. Thank you! I think Marion will definetly get nominated, the Actress categories this year don't seem this strong so hopefully great performances won't get overlooked like last year with Theron and Swinton :(

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  9. I really wasn't blown away by this, either, I was expecting more- it just didn't hit its target, emotionally speaking, I don't know why! I did love Cotillard's performance, but Best Actress? we shall see!

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    1. There really aren't many possible Best Actress contenders this year so I think she may get nominated :)

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  10. Quick note: Ali isn't stealing anything from his sister's workplace. The whole subplot is about him getting a gig with the old man, setting up hidden cameras designed to catch employees doing illegal things (ie. the sister taking expired food home). I guess that's to highlight the fact that he never thinks of the consequences of his actions.

    I didn't really enjoy the movie as well, there is some great performances and scenes but personally, the character arcs (especially Matthias Schoenaerts) just don't lead anywhere for much of the movie, which was very frustrating to me.

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    1. To be honest I didn't quite get that subplot at all. I don't think it was handled skillfully.

      I couldn't care less about Ali, it was one of the most unlikable characters I've seen in 2012 movies.

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