I know this review is a little delayed but I have a legitimate excuse. I was traveling through France and Italy for a month and have finally been able to motivate myself to get back into the blogging game and publish an adequate evaluation of one of the many films I saw while I was abroad. One of the benefits of speaking a second language is that I am able to watch a film in French and appreciate it in the way it was meant to be experienced rather than dubbed or following along with subtitles, and the film De Rouille et D’os (translated to Rust and Bone in English) is without a doubt a film that should be seen and absorbed in its original format.
The film premiered at the 65th Cannes Film Festival this year and was received by an overwhelming fifteen minute standing ovation, as well as being nominated for the coveted Palme d’Or prize. I was fortunate enough to see the film in a theatre in Nantes, France the day after its Cannes premiere, and movie lovers around the world, it does not disappoint. Directed by Jacques Audiard, and starring french beauty Marion Cotillard and the handsomely rugged Matthias Schoenaerts, the film is irrefutably a love story, but with so many dimensions that you cannot consider it to be traditional.
After a work accident, Cotillard’s character, Stephanie, wakes up to see that her legs have been amputated and thus begins her journey to recover from this tragic loss, attempting to be less despondent and find hope in the darkest of places. This light and sense of normalcy is brought about by Schoenaerts’ character, Ali, who is a man struggling to provide a fruitful life for his son while he himself is still in many ways a child. Ali takes the initiative to pull Stephanie from the artificial night she has created for herself in her apartment by bringing her back to the water, where her injury occurred, in hopes that she will find a reason for living and become content in her irreversible physical state. The sense of liberation that washes over her as he holds her in the ocean is beyond moving and your inside cannot help but to feel flooded by uncontrollable emotions that you cannot quite understand. This simple gesture is the beginning of an unconventional love story, where two people love and fight and live as if tomorrow may not come. The heartache, the passion, the everything…this movie encompasses everything one looks for in a film. Ali’s young son is also an incredible force and is a strong root in the narrative, as the love his father develops for him culminates in the sincerely earth shattering ending, one in where you seem to forget to breath until the credits roll.
Though Cotillard was receiving a lot of press for her role, some saying it was the part of a lifetime, I think that Schoenaerts performance was incredibly powerful, as he portrayed a masculinity combined with an honest, frustrating, and juvenile fragility that one rarely sees. I am predicting great this for this movie, an Academy Award perhaps, but should not be the reason for seeing this film. Whenever it is released here in North America, I want you to be your own judge and experience the raw emotional love story that one seldom sees or hears about, the one that is not perfect, where the individuals have multiple flaws, rich pasts, and uncertain but optimistic futures.