Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 3:00 PM

  • Share:
           
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

‘Rust and Bone’: A love story breaks through tale’s gritty surface

A movie review of “Rust and Bone,” director Jacques Audiard’s gritty French tale about a drifter (Matthias Schoenearts) and whale trainer (Marion Cotillard) that unexpectedly becomes a love story.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie Review 3.5 stars

“Rust and Bone,” with Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenearts, Armand Verdure, Céline Sallette, Corinne Masiero. Directed by Jacques Audiard, from a screenplay by Audiard and Thomas Bidegain, based on the book by Craig Davidson. 120 minutes. In French, with English subtitles. Rated R for strong sexual content, brief graphic nudity, some violence and language. Harvard Exit.

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
No comments have been posted to this article.
Start the conversation >

advertising

Jacques Audiard’s “Rust and Bone” seems to wander unexpectedly into its heart; it feels organic in its casual unfolding, like life itself. Ali (Matthias Schoenearts) is a drifter, looking for a life for himself and his 5-year-old son, Sam (Armand Verdure), whom he barely knows. The two find their way to Antibes, and to the modest apartment of Ali’s sister (Corinne Masiero), where Ali finds a job as a nightclub bouncer and meets Stephanie (Marion Cotillard), a cool beauty with a quietly contemptuous gaze. And then — just like that, something terrible happens to Stephanie, and the gritty “Rust and Bone” becomes, beyond anyone’s expectation, a love story.

Audiard (“A Prophet,” “The Beat That My Heart Skipped”) captures his characters in harsh white sunlight, the colors of the landscape baked-in and faded. This movie doesn’t look like a romance, and it doesn’t behave like one either — it resists, at every turn, becoming something pretty. Ali, who fights in illegal bouts for money and neglects his son, isn’t remotely heroic; Stephanie, a whale trainer at a marine park, has a fierce independence. But somehow, they understand each other, and a relationship that’s physical becomes something more; gradually, each makes the other whole again.

“Rust and Bone” (the title refers to the taste of blood in the mouth) is filled with images of water as a life-giving and life-taking force: an opening sequence in which we see seawater and the flecks of life within it; the marine park where the delicate dance between whale and human goes, just for a moment, horribly wrong; the sparkle of a beach where Stephanie finds solace in swimming again; a frozen lake whose ice, like some people, isn’t as solid as it looks; a glass wall behind which swims a whale, in majestic silence. (In the latter scene, Stephanie finds an uncanny connection with the animal; they seem to be speaking to each other, in the quiet.)

It’s a movie that reminds us that not everything broken can be fully mended — and that Cotillard, who unforgettably makes Stephanie at once steely and fragile, is one of the most mesmerizing actresses currently on screen. “I love you,” says this fighter of a woman, late in the film; it’s unexpected and vivid, as if she’s suddenly broken through the surface of rough water to find, to her surprise, sunshine.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Want free career advice? And an iPad Mini?

Want free career advice? And an iPad Mini?

Tell us about your goals and challenges and be considered for a future NWjobs career-makeover story, as well as a chance to win an iPad Mini!

Advertising

Advertising


Advertising