The Watchers

The Watchers

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Review: Rust And Bone (UK Cert 15)

Winner of the top prize at this year's BFI London Film Festival, Rust And Bone is the latest film from French director Jacques Audiard (The Beat That My Heart Skipped, A Prophet).

Along with his young son Sam (Armand Verdure), Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) travels from Belgium to Antibes, looking for work,  He eventually gets work as a nightclub bouncer where- breaking up an altercation- he meets Stephanie (Marion Cotillard), an animal trainer who works with killer whales. Ali and Stephanie's relationship intensifies when Stephanie has a terrible accident at work.

The film has caused some debate, with several reviewers disclosing the true nature of Stephanie's accident and the implications it has for the rest of the films, whilst others consider that to be a major spoiler and have steered clear of mentioning it. Interestingly, the UK trailers do not disclose it but the French trailers do. I went into the film knowing what happens to Stephanie- as I read one of the reviews that disclosed that fact- and, for me, it didn't lessen the emotional impact of the 'big reveal', such is Cotillard's devastating performance at that point (and throughout). That said, it is a major turning point in the film so I'm not going to spoil it for you.

Cotillard's performance has been garnering a lot of award hype (with several nominations, including the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild) and it is well deserved: she gives a brilliant, strong performance throughout, completely embracing the complexities of the character. Matching her in intensity is Schoenaerts. Ali is not a particularly likeable character at first, slightly neglectful of his son and- at one point- downright horrible to him. Schoenaerts gives a very physical performance (Ali is a mixed martial artist and also goes in for bare-knuckle boxing) and his interplay with Cotillard is eminently watchable.

Ultimately, this film won't be for everyone. Foreign-language films do tend to be something of a niche interest. All said, I enjoyed it for the performances of Cotillard and Schoenaerts. In places, it's not the easiest of watches, but it's worth it.

Review: 3.5 out of 5


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