Sunday, November 18, 2012

Rust and Bone

Based on the short stories by Craig Davidson, De rouille et do’s (Rust and Bone) is the story of a man trying to find his way in the world as he meets and falls for a killer whale trainer who had just lost her legs in a freak accident. Directed by Jacques Audiard and screenplay by Audiard and Thomas Bidegain, the film showcases the power of human connection through tragedy and longing. Starring Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts. De rouille et do’s is an extraordinary yet powerful film from Jacques Audiard.

Arriving from Belgium to the south of France with his young son Sam (Armand Verdure), Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) moves in with his sister Anna (Corinne Masiero) and her husband Richard (Jean-Michel Correia). Hoping to find work, Ali goes through several jobs including being a club bouncer where he stops a fight where a woman named Stephanie (Marion Cotillard) was accidentally hit and received a bloody nose. Ali takes Stephanie back to her apartment to heal his swollen hand as he leaves his number to her in case she wants to call. Ali continues to find something that will give him some good money where he learns that Stephanie was in a freak accident during her work as a killer whale trainer where she lost her legs. Despondent over the loss her legs and her well-being, Stephanie calls Ali needing him to keep her company.

Ali and Stephanie begin a relationship of sorts where they would occasionally have sex but also keep her company as she watches him take part in illegal fights. Ali also takes part in helping his friend Martial (Bouli Lanners) to put in tiny cameras in various places for the bosses to spy on their staff. Despite their time together, Stephanie begins to question about the nature of their relationship due to Ali’s actions where he finds himself in trouble of his other work with Martial. Particularly where it would cause some dire consequences as Ali is forced to question what kind of man he’s supposed to be.

The question of how people come together is an interesting one as this film is about two very different people who connect through not just tragedy but also to find some direction in life. In Ali, here’s a man that is extremely flawed as he is a well-meaning but inattentive father who leaves his child in the care of his sister and her husband who have enough problems of their own. Ali is also someone who is quite immature and is willing to have sex with anyone and seems to put his own interests first before anyone else’s. In Stephanie, here’s a woman who already has a life but is seemingly unfulfilled until she loses her legs in a freak accident where she goes into a period of shutting herself out from everyone. When they get together, both go into a period in their life where they’re trying to find themselves in this unconventional relationship.

The screenplay doesn’t carry a lot of plot schematics as it slowly builds this relationship that is very flawed since these are two very different people. Yet, they managed to connect on the fact that neither of them have any clue about themselves or what to do in their life. All Ali knows is to fight and be tough where he can take part in these illegal fights and risk his body. For him, it’s about proving that he’s the best and maybe use the money to help his sister and get his son for a few things. While he has good intentions, there’s a side of Ali that is very despicable where he’ll go out with a woman to have sex with her leaving Stephanie alone at a club or not be aware of the damage he’s doing in setting up cameras to get people fired. He’s essentially a man who is still a child of sorts with no real sense of direction and he’s not even sure why he’s with someone like Stephanie as she would question about why they’re having this relationship.

For Stephanie, she’s a woman who is truly lost as she doesn’t think people understand what she is going through or really care as she isn’t sure she wants to people to think of her as a freak. There’s one moment in the club scene after Ali leaves her for another woman where she’s drinking and a man buys her a drink. When he realizes what she is, he wants to offer sympathy but she wants none of it. She becomes more aware of who she is as she doesn’t want to be defined yet she knows that Ali is someone who needs to grow up and be responsible. Their relationship is quite complicated since neither really know what they want from each other yet the script doesn’t really bring any answers to that. In fact, it doesn’t really need any answers other than just two people needing to be connected by some strange circumstances.

Jacques Audiard’s direction is truly evocative for the way he creates a drama that doesn’t play to conventions despite the schematics it brings where some will accuse of it being manipulative. Yet, Audiard is aware of being manipulative but he does it in order to create key moments for the development of its lead characters. Particularly in scenes where Ali and Stephanie are together where Audiard just underplays the drama and let things just happen without any kind of schemes. Shot in various locations like Antibes, Cannes, Paris, parts of Northern France, Belgium, and Warsaw. It’s a film where Audiard places these individuals in a world where it’s very imperfect just like their lives. Sure, there’s beautiful beaches and some other fine places but it’s just as chaotic as the lives of Ali and Stephanie.

Audiard’s direction definitely employs a lot of hand-held cameras but it never becomes shaky in order to capture a lot of the drama that is happening as if he’s aiming for a cinema verite style. There are some stylistic shots such as some lingering images of water for Stephanie to reflect on what happened to her as there’s also startling images of men fighting in slow motion Audiard also creates some compositions that are truly hypnotic such as Stephanie’s return to the sea park she worked at where Audiard places the camera in a wide shot for Stephanie to connect with the whale. Audiard doesn’t employ a lot of close-ups as he knows where to keep the camera away including in some very intense moments of the film. He also knows when not to explain things by letting the images happen where he would create some very key moments in the drama. Overall, Audiard creates a truly captivating drama about human connection.

Cinematographer Stephane Fontaine does excellent work with the photography to capture the beauty that is the South of France but without any kind of a postcard look while employing more low-key lighting frame for some of the nighttime interiors to maintain a realistic look. Editor Juliette Welfling does brilliant work with the editing by utilizing lots of stylish cuts for the film including jump-cuts and fade-outs to help play out its structure and the action that occurs. Production designer Michel Barthelemy, along with set decorator Boris Piot and art director Yann Megard, does wonderful work with the look of Anna’s home as well as the more spacious apartment that Stephanie lives in for her new life.

Costume designer Virginie Martel does nice work with the costumes from the track suits that Ali wears to the more looser clothing that Stephanie wears. Visual effects supervisor Cedric Fayolle does terrific work with the film‘s minimal visual effects to display Stephanie without her legs. Sound editor Pascal Villard does superb work with the sound to capture the atmosphere of the club scenes as well as the more intimate moments between Ali and Stephanie.

The film’s music by Alexandre Desplat is amazing for its low-key yet ethereal orchestral score that also features some piano-driven music as well as moments to underplay the drama. Music supervisor Frederic Junqua creates a soundtrack that features all sorts of music ranging from club, pop, folk, and rock from artists as diverse as Bon Iver, Bruce Springsteen, the B-52s, White & Spirit, Lykke Li, and probably the most inspired use of Katy Perry’s Firework.

The casting by Richard Rousseau is great for the ensemble that is created as it features some notable small performances from Yannick Choirat as Stephanie’s boyfriend Simon, Mourad Frarema as Ali’s night guard co-worker Foued, Jean-Michel Correia as Ali’s brother-in-law Richard, Bouli Lanners as Ali's corrupt friend Martial, and Celine Sallette as Stephanie’s friend Louise. Corrine Maisero is excellent as Ali’s sister Anna who tries to deal with Ali’s immaturity and selfishness as well as the fact that he’s an irresponsible ass. Armand Verdure is wonderful as Ali’s son Sam who is just a five-year old who loves dogs and doesn’t really understand what kind of man his father is.

Matthias Schoenaerts is marvelous as the fearless yet directionless Ali who tries to find something that would give him a good life only to do terrible things that would impact people. It’s a role that is very complicated but Schoenaerts really manages to make Ali a man that is human and at times un-likeable but also engaging as he knows he’s very flawed. Finally, there’s Marion Cotillard in a towering performance as Stephanie as a woman lost and troubled by her accident where Cotillard displays a lot of life into this woman who could’ve been destroyed. It’s also a performance that just radiates in its silent moments but as well as its darker ones. The chemistry between Cotillard and Schoenaerts is intoxicating to watch for the way they depend on each other as well as understand that neither of them are perfect.

De rouille et do’s is a magnificent film from Jacques Audiard that features incredible performances from Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts. It’s a film that definitely captures the power of the human spirit in all of its flaws while not being afraid to be sentimental. While it’s not an easy film to watch, it’s very engaging for the way it reveals how two people can connect despite having very little in common. In the end, De rouille et do’s is a phenomenal film from Jacques Audiard.

Jacques Audiard Films: (See How They Fall) - (A Self Made Hero) - (Sur mes levres) - (The Beat That My Heart Skipped) - A Prophet

© thevoid99 2012


Unknown said...

Glad you finally got to see it, and that you weren't disappointed.

Alex Withrow said...

Yes. So glad you liked this one. Easily my favorite film of the year so far. Cotillard and Schoenaerts are simply sensational, as is Fontaine’s work. So on point. Really need to see this again.

thevoid99 said...

@Bonjour-I watched it with low expectations and it worked. I was really into it and was moved towards the end.

@Alex-Right now, this is my favorite film of 2012 with Marion Cotillard in the top of the list for Best Actress. I really hope to see it again as well.