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Rust and Bone (4 stars)

Thought-provoking drama from the director of A Prophet, starring Marion Cotillard

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Rust and Bone

Expectations are high when it comes to a new Jacques Audiard film, for the simple reason that on the building evidence of his last three films Read My Lips, The Beat That My Heart Skipped and A Prophet, he might be the best writer/director currently breathing. But the man does not play it safe, as is evidenced by the peculiar premise of this unclassifiable drama.

You didn’t know you wanted to see a film about the improbable flourishing of intimacy between a bare-knuckle fighter and a legless orca whale trainer, did you? It sounds, after all, a bit like a parodic take on the forced eccentricities common to a certain strain of self-important arthouse. What’s more, the film’s slow start, during which it circles its characters curiously without answering many questions about them, won’t necessarily hook you in. But what frustrates initially turns out to be productive: feelings for these odd characters, skilfully portrayed by Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts, sneaks up on you just as it does on them, with the consequence that the film takes on an unexpected intensity (and a dark, winning sense of humour) as their relationship develops.

The film pays the same careful attention to the development of their delicate line of connection as it does to the sheer tedious heartbroken slog of adjusting to a serious disability. In the end it’s about how inseparable our physical lives – expressed here through dancing, swimming, fighting and sex – are from our emotional ones, and how the forging of emotional connections can defy the fragility of bodies. It’s perhaps less focused and perfect-feeling than Audiard’s best work, but its oddness makes it more thought-provoking. And it hardly needs to be noted that Cotillard, as a previous Oscar-winner playing a differently-abled person, is going to need to go serious frock-shopping before awards season hits.

General release from Fri 2 Nov

Rust & Bone (De rouille et d'os)

  • 4 stars
  • 2012
  • France/Belgium
  • 120 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Jacques Audiard
  • Written by: Craig Davidson (short stories), Jacques Audiard (screenplay), Thomas Bidegain (screenplay)
  • Cast: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts

The director of The Beat That My Heart Skipped returns with a much anticipated adaptation of a short story collection by Craig Davidson. The action centres on a young man, Alain (Schoenaerts) with no money and no responsibilities, who has to deal with a sharp change of circumstance when he gets a girl pregnant.

Rust and Bones UK Trailer (English Subtitles)

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