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May 6, 2013 | by  | in Arts Film |
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Film Review – Rust and Bone

Rust and Bone really should have been titled Raw and Bloody—such is the level of realism and graphic imagery that prevails in this French film. The narrative sees whale-trainer turned double amputee Stéphanie (Marion Cotillard) develop an extraordinary relationship with the poor and desperate solo father Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts).

The raw portrayal of the struggle to make ends meet in a seaside French city becomes evident in the opening minutes. Ali’s actions are certainly more alarming with his vigorous sexual antics, street fighting and inability to deal with his role as a father. Yet Stéphanie’s quieter pain is more intense and Cotillard represents a lost woman with seriousness and integrity—without a hint of the allure that has made her so recognisable. The audience finds it excruciating to witness Stéphanie wake up and realise her legs are gone, afterwards screaming, “What have you done to my legs?!” This tension remains high throughout, even though some of the events are exceedingly predictable considering what we know about humanity.

However, the film manages to provide relief just when you feel you cannot bear another minute of the violence or desperation. These moments of beauty are understated and pure, like the movement of the whales and Stéphanie’s walking. Additionally, the bright, almost blinding, light of the seaside balances out the darkness of the small spaces where the action takes place. It is shot so that you never quite see a moment of propelling action fully play out, just the conclusion, and only once in the whole film do either of them ask “Why?” of the other.

The sheer intensity and realism of Rust and Bone make it a compelling film. While it may not have been enjoyable, it is absolutely essential viewing.

Verdict: 4/5

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