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De Rouille et d'os
Cast: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts, Armand Verdure, Céline Sallette
Director: Jacques Audiard
Screenplay: Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain
Story: Craig Davidson
Music: Alexandre Desplat
Countries: Belgium, French
Runtime: 120 mins
Showing at the BFI London Film Festival on 13 and 14 October
Rust and Bone, the new chef-oeuvre of Jacques Audiard (A Prophet, 2009) is undoubtedly one of the most powerful films of the year and might just provide its female lead with the chance of a second Oscar.
The encounter of Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts – Bullhead, 2011) and Stephanie (Marion Cotillard – La vie en Rose, 2008) is the story of two very different lives coming together and ultimately growing and developing together. It is a story of a life-enhancing friendship which shows that, although all human beings can be damaged by life, we all have the ability to recover and move forward if we are supported and loved.
Ali finds himself looking after his 5-year-old son on his own. He is a tough young man, raised on the streets, and used to fighting to stay alive. He goes to live with his sister in Antibes where he starts working as a bouncer. One night, he meets Stephanie. She is as anonymous as any other woman going out on her own on a Saturday night in a small city in southern France although she attracts the type of attention that gets her into trouble and he has to step in to help her out and takes her home where she lives with her boyfriend. She is a talented Orca whale trainer at the Marineland Park.
Time goes by. A few weeks after meeting him in the nightclub, Stephanie rings Ali with no expectations. When he goes to visit her in the new flat she has moved into, he finds that she has suffered a terrible accident and her boyfriend is no longer with her. She is now ridden to her wheelchair and lives like a recluse and has not washed for days.
He is going help her regain her dignity in the most natural way and without any pity or compassion. In the process find a way to save himself as well. This is an amazing story, written by the Canadian writer Craig Davidson, of catharsis leading to forgiveness, showing how fate and other people can both destroy and create.
Beautifully filmed and wonderfully acted, it demystifies and ultimately ignores handicap, without emotion or pity. Only the strength to keep devouring life, day by day, is present in Rust and Bone.
A superb film with a powerful story, but not for children or the faint-hearted.