In combat lingo, “rust and bone” refers to the taste and sensation of blood in the mouth from the impact of teeth crushing against the lips. Yet, there is an intoxicating and sensual quality about Jacques Audiard’s sixth feature that is unlike most movies dealing with post-trauma recovery. That is the thematic value and central struggle in this film—the conditions required of survival are in constant flux. After life hits you across the face with a hard punch, the ordeal can break you as much as it revives (even empower) you.
A free adaptation from two short stories (Rocket Ride, Rust and Bone); this film follows the relationship between a single father and boxing enthusiast, and a killer-whale trainer who suffers an accident leaving both legs amputated.
Ali is a brazen and hotheaded man struggling to make ends meet in Southern France. While working as a nightclub bouncer, he has a chance meeting with sultry brooder Stéphanie (played to astute and artful perfection by Marion Cotillard). After breaking up a bar fight involving her and another man, Ali leaves his phone number. The invitation to a risque encounter was implied in pantomime, but didn’t materialize. Months go by before Stéphanie surfaces out the blue and friendship develops—that Ali is the only person with whom she wants to interact is sensible in the context of psychological moribund. His casual directness, unabashed attitude, lack of modesty to embrace any topic and taboo restores her ability to normalize once again.
But make no mistake about Rust and Bone being (yet) another sexist drama that reduces either character to classic plot device—it isn’t. Without giving away too much, Stéphanie is just as instrumental in causing peripeteia during the film’s final act.
Rust and Bone explores a wide range of human fragility and potential. The execution is prolific because it captures the protagonists’ transformation from downtrodden spirits, to lives soaring in full flight. In the process; Audiard bifurcates from two-dimensional narrative, towards a kind of voltaic energy and attitude that is conscious and alive.
LANGUAGE IN FRENCH