Rust and Bone – deserving of all the hype? You’ll have to make your mind up

7 Nov

The 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.

The Good:

Rust and Bone is a slow moving tale of self discovery for two people, Stephanie (Marion Cotillard) and Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts). The film tackles the very plausible notion of two people from different paths, meeting and becoming friends who become lovers. It a common story but adding  the intense themes of coping with disability is what helped the film take top prize at this year’s London Film festival.

The film’s main strength  lies in Marion Cotillard’s performance, with  her vulnerability and fragility displayed in award winning fashion throughout. The Oscar winning actress expertly pulls on audiences heartstrings as her character comes to terms with her traumatic accident and slowly allows herself to become emotionally dependent on her unlikely new friend. It’s easy for audiences to empathise with Stephanie’s growing need for Ali as she searches for someone who treats her as an equal not an invalid.

Matthias Schoenaerts proves a good sparing partner for  Cotillard in this film and his matter of fact attitude provides an interesting contrast. Scenes where it is just the two of them manage to bring home a sense of realism and unexpected but welcome humour in the situation that is presented.

The cinematography must also be applauded. In some of the beach scenes, you can almost feel the summer breeze as you watch it and forget about the blistery UK Autumn outside. It also allows the audience to feel part of this world, not just a spectator.

The Bad:

Rust an Bone is not without it’s flaws. There are too many elements which makes the overall plot messy and difficult to understand. The struggles of fatherhood, love and the aftermath of a tragic accident  are all strong topics in themselves but it’s a tough challenge to combine them. Characters are wasted, and story elements seem carelessly placed in order to give an excuse for the narrative to move in implausible directions.

It would have been interesting to focus more on Stephanie’s  battle to overcome her fears and work with killer whales again. But this is only explored briefly as the film jumps between different stories. It’s jarring and frustrating as key parts of the film simply aren’t explored in enough depth.

The Ugly Truth:

The film’s strong performances, particularly the brilliant Marion Cotillard, connect well with an audience and make the most of a disjointed narrative. A clunky and confused storyline poses a few too many problems to allow the film to ever be totally enjoyable and may leave some wondering exactly where the film was supposed to be going in the first place.

Written for: Red Carpet News TV

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