Updated: Friday, 7th August 2020 @ 1:30pm

Now showing @ Cornerhouse... Reviewed: Rust and Bone

Now showing @ Cornerhouse... Reviewed: Rust and Bone

By Robbie Gill

Jaques Audiard’s first drama since 2009’s The Prophet is a love story which is both beautiful and ferocious.

Marion Cotillard gives a stellar performance as Stephanie, an orca trainer who looses both legs in a freak accident.

As she struggles to adapt to her changing circumstances, she falls for brutish bare knuckle fighter Ali, Matthias Schoenaerts, after he nonchalantly offers her casual sex.

Ali is strapping and fierce, the polar opposite of the gentle, tender love that the recovering Stephanie needs.

However, he manages to show her a great deal more affection than he affords his neglected son, who is pushed, dragged and slapped through the duration.

The pairs loose relationship is based on mutual gratification, although there are allusions towards a deeper sense of love between them.

During a particularly brutal fight, Ali is being pinned to the ground, Stephanie worriedly steps out of the car and at the same time inspires Ali to overthrow his opponent.

There is very little for either to be cheerful about but their bond is strengthened by the setbacks that attack them from all sides.

Audiard plays the animalistic strength of Ali against the mental fortitude of Stephanie, who is defiant in the face of adversity.

He manages a love story which at face value borders on the ridiculous and expertly transfers it to the screen, leaving it feeling believable.

The brilliance of the two leads adds to the romance but unfortunately cannot mask the cluttered narrative.

The scope of Audiard’s vision is commendable, but at times there are too many themes, sibling rivalry, parental neglect, battling adversity, and rights all run simultaneously which eventually begins to drain.

There is also a sense that he is trying desperately to veil elements of melodrama with the gritty, dark atmosphere of which Audiard is a master.

Rust and Bone becomes increasingly brutish as the film builds to its crescendo, where Ali finally appears to rediscover the love for his son, but this feels manipulated and forced.

Overall the clumsy use of excessive sub plots and an end sequence which seems contrived serve to detract from a performance of the highest order from Cotillard, who makes a narrative that would otherwise be farcical seem slightly more meaningful.

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