Thursday, February 14, 2013

Jacques Audiard's Rust and Bone - Surviving and Loving

Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) lives his life without much heed for commitment or responsibility. At 25, he is unemployed. Then he's given custody of his 5-year old son Sam (Armand Vendure). With no work or any possible opportunity in the horizon, he packs his bags, takes Sam with him and moves to Antibe in the south of France where his childless sister Ana lives with her husband. But this situation is likewise bleak; Ana's tenure is temporary. She works as a cashier for a supermarket. Ali soon finds odd jobs: as security at his sister’s supermarket, and four times nightly, he moonlights as bouncer at a dance club. One night, he meets Stephanie (Marion Cotillard) who’s in a loveless relationship. They strike a friendship that withstands an accident at the marine park where Steph trains killer Orcas. One day, Steph wakes up with both her feet amputated. Ali offers help and soon, they share non-committal concupiscent trysts. 

Meanwhile, Ali lands an invitation to fight for a kickboxing match that would earn him big bucks if he wins. Otherwise, it’s a fight to the end. Steph gets her leg prosthesis and gradually insinuates herself into Ali’s life, meeting Sam and Ali’s sister Ana in the process. Ali’s occasional romp with anonymous girls soon becomes an issue. What’s worse, Ali gets involved in an insider’s ruse that gets his sister terminated from her job (she takes home the expired goods from the supermarket). Ana was understandably livid; she orders Ali to move out. What’s a guy to do?

Director Jacques Audiard’s French-language “Rust and Bone” weaves a tale that follows Ali and Stephanie’s cantankerous lives: a drifter’s descent into avertable tragedy and a grieving woman’s rise from fall. Matthias Schoenaerts displays raw magnetism reeking with machismo. His cinematic charisma compels his audience to diligently root for him, despite his missteps. It is this intuitive empathy that allows us to connect with someone who’s almost self-destructive. Marion Cotillard, on the other hand, fiercely inhabits her highly nuanced character; her emotive shifts right after her accident were imbued with earnest persuasion. That such feeble souls had to eventually find comfort in each other’s vulnerability is nothing short of inspiring. We all need help sometimes.

The film has several graphic scenes between our protagonists, including full frontals from Schoenaerts. The film was based on Canadian author Craig Davidson’s short stories, “Rust and Bone” and “Rocket Ride”. Audiard had to tweak the narrative, changing the main character into a woman since Davidson's stories were “about a man who loses his leg after a killer whale attack”. The film got nominated for Cannes’ Palme d’Or. Cotillard got Best Actress nominations from BAFTA, the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards. It even won a Best Actor plum for Schoenaerts at the Valladolid International Film Festival. The riveting thread of events create one of 2012's most compelling stories. Not to be missed!  

Ali engages in street fighting.

Marion Cotillard

Cotillard filmed "Rust and Bone" simultaneously with "The Dark Knight Rises".

Matthias Schoenaerts

The 6' 2" actor beat 200 others who auditioned for the role.  Audiard initially wanted  a neophyte so he had to scour gyms and boxing clubs for his Ali.

Ali moves to Antibes, a city in the south of France.

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