French director Jacques Audiards 'Rust & Bone' is every bit as evocative and visceral as the title suggests. Telling the story of Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) who leaves Belgium with his 5 year old son, Sam and heads to Antibes in the South of France to live with his sister. Ali ends up temping on various jobs which is where he meets the beautiful Stephanie (Marion Cotillard).
Unbeknownst to Ali, Stephanie who works as an Orca whale trainer at the local aquarium suffers a horrific accident at the hands of the animal she's devoted her life to, and through this incident the pair forge a deep connection.
Rust & Bone was a strong contender at this years Cannes Film Festival where it was in running for the coveted Palm D'Or. Despite not winning, the film picked up glowing reviews and became one of the much talked about films from Cannes and you can certainly see why.
It was one of those films where the details of the story seemed to have been spread by word of mouth, after seeing trailers and reading bits here and there I was fully aware of what happens in the film and I was gearing myself up for that moment, but I won't ruin it for those who plan on seeing the film. Needless to say the scene were Stephanie awakes in her hospital bed to the dawning realisation of her accident is truly a shocking and raw piece of filmmaking, largely made all the more real and devastating by Cotillard who turns in a truly career defining performance.
Cotillard is spellbinding in this film, after seeing her as the sexy villain in Dark Knight Rises, her role in Rust & Bone couldn't be further away in tone. Bound to a wheelchair for a large portion of the film, she has this ability to make you as an audience almost share her feeling of exhaustion and frustration as she learns to adapt to this new life, even a simple task such as making coffee is made agonisingly tricky for her.
The film packs plenty of emotional punches, and surprisingly the film doesn't just focus on Stephanie and what could be considered the central narrative, but everything is connected in a way. For instance a strand of the film deals with Ali and the fact he needs to find a job, he winds up working with a man whose employed by shop managers to install camera's in order to spy on his staff. As a result of this illegal activity, Ali's own sister is sacked from her job for stealing expired food .
As well as the relationship with his sister, Ali's own relationship with his son provides another strong emotional storyline within the film. Ali we learn is not particularly a nice guy, he treats women like objects, his temper often gets the better of him and his general lack of parental skills culminates in a heart pounding scene on a frozen lake.
Fortunately, the film has an ending that will satisfy you. After almost 2 hours of being taken on this intense emotional journey, and for all Ali's flaws as a human being his love for Stephanie, and equally her love for him is truly what makes the film.
Rust & Bone is the perfect antidote to the blockbuster summer slate of films such as Avengers, Battleship and most recently Spiderman and Batman. After a slew of eye popping 3D extravaganza's, seeing a film like this really pushes the message home that film is just as original and emotional as it ever was.