English Title: Rust and Bone
Original Title: De rouille et d’os
Country: France, Belgium
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director: Jacques Audiard
The reflexive response while watching this film is an over-stressed anguish-stricken tone which could be elicited from another French-speaking melodrama OUR CHILDREN (2012), a thrilling familial calamity engendered by the neglectful repercussions of a mother’s puerperal melancholia from director Joachim Lafosse, which has been named as Belgium’s entry of the upcoming Oscar season, while RUST AND BONE ruefully missed the quota from France (the 2011 box office monolith THE INTOUCHABLES, surprisingly nabbed the opportunity, which is very auspicious to be nominated among the final five).
As the masterly Jacques Audiard’s follow-up after the awards-sweeping A PROPHET (2009), a riveting prison drama about a rookie Arab’s staggering ascendency as the big wheel among the confronting mafias, which heralds the prime period of his career, RUST AND BONE has inherited the narrative’s forceful impetus, with staples like altercations, violence (the brutal black market boxing), accidental tragedies and post-trauma syndrome successively strike throughout the main characters’ lives and being graphically thrust in front of viewer’s retinae, sparking off a quite sophisticated bitterness with certain quantity of compassion.
From BULLHEAD (2011), a hefty Matthias Schoenaerts proceeds on adroitly with his rough diamond bearing, and utterly radiates his masculinity with his hunky stud physique, seamlessly accomplishes his (rite-of-passage) portrayal of a blood-thirsting but benevolent, playing-the-field but innocent, sometimes irresponsible but ultimately devoting single father with a 5-year-old son; so to speak for the Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard, as the co-lead, a orca-trainer lost her legs during a live-show, thanks to a praiseworthy green screen capture technique and Audiard’s deliberate generosity which gives her prolonged lingering close-ups to refract a rehabilitating journey of a despondent heart; Cotillard is almost impeccable in carefully moulding her role’s nuanced yet protean traits (please sticking to your mother tongue instead of meddling with American hot stuffs). Although this time, the character is much thinner than her Oscar-snatching one-man show LA VIE EN ROSE (2007), Cotillard’s chance of a second nomination is quite possible (currently she is my No.4 of the year), but for Mr. Schoenaerts (my No. 2 of the year notwithstanding), his competition will be much more portentous (a lower repute does hurt).
By and large, the film is far less intriguing than A PROPHET, there are some palpable (tedious) moments which one may sense the camera really overstays its welcome (e.g. the drama between the brother and sister is awfully cliche), since the script adapted by Craig Davidson’s original novel is quite straightforward, it replies too much on the emotional curves of the two leads (in spite of the superb performances) when grappling with their debacles in life to propel the film through its pleasing ending, which is a blunt maneuvre judging by Audiard’s talent. But in another way, there are remarkable and mesmerising shots aplenty (a great Steadicam work from DP Stéphane Fontaine), the scenes of Marion and orca re-connecting alone are beyond any ineffable beauty a film could present. Last but not the least Alexandre Desplat’s original score has its subtle but competent existence which hones up the film’s many theatrical episodes (the ice surface rescue part, to wit).