By Mark Saldana 

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

Two people, broken in different ways, from vastly different worlds, form an unlikely romance and offer each other what is missing from their lives in a gorgeous and emotional film by the director of 2009’s The Prophet, Jaques Audiard.  Ali (Mattias Shoenaerts) and his son Sam (Armand Verdure) leave their home in Belgium for France and attempt to start their lives over.  Ali moves in with his sister and brother-in-law and tries different types of employment to support him and Sam.  While working as a bouncer in a club, he meets Stephanie (Marion Cotillard), a killer whale trainer who eventually loses her legs in a freak and tragic accident with one of the whales.  The two develop an unusual friendship which leads to intimacy and romance. Despite their undeniable feelings for each other, their personal issues threaten to keep them apart.

As far as plots go, Rust and Bone does not offer audiences anything strikingly different from most love stories, but Audiard has way of taking this typical plot and enriching it cinematically with his signature style.  Much like the way the characters of Ali and Stephanie balance each other in providing what is missing from each other’s lives, Audiard manages to marry the cold brutality of Ali’s world and warm and lyrical beauty of Stephanie’s background.  Based on the story of the same title by Craig Davidson, Thomas Bidegain and Audiard do an amazing job with their screenplay.  They truly do excel in developing their main characters completely and realistically.  The cast certainly does their part to effectively bring their vision to life.

Mattias Schoenerts who wowed audiences and critics in 2011 with his ferocity in Bullhead, plays another brutish character, but a slightly more likable one this time. The man is a genuine talent and shows more emotional range with his turn as Ali.  Marion Cotillard, who offers my favorite performance by an actress in 2012 here as Stephanie, delivers some emotionally heart wrenching acting, but also has a lovely and sassy charm about her. Her Stephanie truly is broken, devastated and lost.  The audience experiences her journey and feels her emotions because of Cotillard’s ability to effectively convey these feelings.  I was thrilled for her that she received a Golden Globe nomination, but disappointed that the Academy didn’t follow suit with an Oscar nomination

I must highly recommend this movie for fans of Shoenerts, Cotillard and Jaques Audiard.  Well, I should highly encourage those, who can appreciate a well written, directed and acted foreign language film, to go see it as well. Audiard is an artist and a visionary and I definitely look forward to more films by him.  With Rust and Bone, he manages to take a typical romance plot and do so much more with it.

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