A log line certainly does not do this film justice. It's a marvelous evolving story, which starts out with a happenstance meeting at a night club between two completely different people - one a hapless bouncer, the other a beautiful Marineland whale trainer. 'Rust and Bone' hardly has the genre coolness of Audiard's previous prison gangster film 'A Prophet'. With its remarkable and melodramatic ebbs and flows, in many ways 'Rust and Bone' makes for a more accomplished film.
Rust and Bone (2012) dir. Jacques Audiard
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Mattias Schoenaerts
By Alan Bacchus
Cotillard is the whale trainer, Stephanie, who is introduced to Ali (Schoenaerts), a bouncer and dead-beat dad trying to raise his son while being a part-time MMA street fighter. After rescuing Stephanie from a night club scuffle a platonic bond forms, but it's deepened even further after an even more violent tragedy affects Stephanie.
The platonic friendship blossoms in the most intriguing way, resulting in one of the unique cinematic courtships in recent memory.
Audiard expertly weaves the edgy machismo tone he's done well in his previous films with the delicate feminine touch for Cotillard.
The artful treatment of the tragedy that afflicts Stephanie recalls the dreamy hopefulness of Julian Schnabel's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Audiard is comfortable messing with muscle bound MMA street fighters and being delicate with the beautiful and elegant whale sequences. Establishing Stephanie's role as a whale trainer at Marineland results in a terrific energetic sequence, which features the first of numerous inspired uses of pop star Katy Perry's song Firework.
Music is key to the changing faces of this film. The bass-pumping nightclub is booming and heart pumping, Alexandre Desplat's score is delightfully melancholy and the use of Bon Iver is downright haunting.
But the real joy of this film is the unpredictable trajectory of the story. The tragedies that strike both Stephanie and Ali are shocking but natural and avoid melodrama. Rust and Bone is a wonderfully enlightening film.