RUST AND BONE (France, 2012)
The movie begins with a shot of an asphalt pavement aglow in the sun, pounded by a boy's sturdy, hurrying feet. That's Sam, Ali's son, Ali, fresh from Belgium, and the two are on the way to Ali's sister’s in Antibes, France. The needy state the pair’s in is hard to go unnoticed: Ali scavenges train cars for food scraps and steals from an electronics store to feed himself and his son. When Ali finally reunites with his sister, Anna, her own hardship manifests itself quite explicitly as a fridge stocked with drinks neatly organized but past their expiry dates. Soon, Ali gets a bouncing job at a nightclub, where he meets whale trainer Stephanie as he saves her from a bloody brawl.
That physicality and deficiency are the predominant motifs is repeatedly suggested in the lingering shots of Stephanie’s legs, whether they be still part of her body or permanently lost, and the scenes where Ali engages in gambling fights. As Ali and Stephanie’s bond gets tighter, Jacques Audiard’s lens lets in a generous amount of sunlight to imply a rather hopeful future for the couple unabashedly, but not mawkishly. In Rust and Bone, all in all, the incomplete meet and find a way to more than complete each other, although their emotional journey encounters a few bumps along the way, both story-wise and in terms of narrative development. As ever, Marion Cotillard wrings the heart, with a mere outstretch of her arms motioning to a whale, and Matthias Schoenaerts, who seems emotionally inert most of the time, surprises you in a climactic scene and successfully produces the most memorable moment in the movie. (6/10)