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Rust and Bone

Rust and Bone film posterSynopsis

A film by Jacques Audiard. Matthias Schoenaerts plays Ali, his son Sam played by Armand Verdure.  They go to Antibes to stay with his sister Anne (Corrine Masiero).  Marion Cotillard plays Stephanie who trains whales at a marine show.  The whales crash into the stands and Stephanie loses her legs in the accident.  Stephanie recovers and has a relationship with Ali whom she first met when he was a bouncer at a disco.  Ali aspires to be a boxer and he gets into kick boxer fights and Stephanie deals with his takings.  Ali gets involved in spying on employees which results in Anne’s sacking.  Ali goes north and his son later meets him there…

Criticism

I found this film fairly irritating.  It follows the usual cinematic trajectory in showing disablement: from despair to life-affirming dance routines complete with the usual pop music tracks.  Stephanie gets artificial legs and Ali helps her to accept the situation.  She goes down to the Marine tank and makes the usual cinematic gesture of palming her hand against the glass as an act of acceptance no doubt.  All quite stereotypical in mainstream US films but one does not expect the French to imitate this.  As for losing her legs from an accident with a whale, didn’t this happen to Captain Ahab in Moby Dick?  Aren’t we supposed to appreciate this as symbolic?  Ali helps Stephanie out of her misery and yet he shows little consideration for his sister when he installs the electronic snooper at her work place.  He is obsessed with boxing and is easily provoked to violence.  The film has an erotic feel for vitality so you can almost smell the sweat and feel the shower steam but this vitality can get pretty thuggish.  Ali is another familiar character that Hollywood has foisted on us: ‘The Man With the Son’.  He carts his boy around like a status accessory, presumably to show his humanity.  In film, if you have a son (it’s usually a son) then your sensitivity credentials are established.  Ali is a sentimental brute whose world view is circumscribed by alpha pack confrontations which gave me a headache.  Then we get another predictable scene: the Brueghel like winter landscape where the boy plays on the ice.  You know for sure he is going to fall through the ice and he duly does so.  Rust and Bone to the taste you get when you’ve been punched on the mouth, but for me, well acted though it is, it felt like rust and bone in the head.  Unprepossessing.

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