Posted by Craig Grobler on Google+ On Sunday, October 07, 2012

Rust and BoneThis week I am seeing Jacques Audiard's Rust and Bone my 5th most anticipated film of 2012. It should have been a lot higher on my list but this year has been a rather spectacular year of big releases. Right now I am full of the anticipation and giddiness that only a film aficionado would understand, as the long wait for Rust and Bone is coming to and end for me and and hopefully once again the flickering magic of cinema will transport me into an imaginative cerebral experience where real world and fantasy merge.

As much as Hollywood would like you to think otherwise, France is the birth place of film. It is easily forgotten or glossed over that Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince invented the movie camera, Charles-Émile Reynaud the perforations allowing celluloid to move through a camera and early film techniques were pioneered by Auguste and Louis Lumiere and of course the incomparable Georges Méliès. And over the years many french filmmakers have enhanced & developed further techniques that as well as created movements and genres.

This is a big part of the reason the Cannes film festival is given as much respect as is as the greatest film festival in the world and the reason many filmmakers across the world make their way to France to create and hone their art. So what has this all to do with a post about Rust and Bone? - well I am of the opinion that Jacques Audiard is part of the great lineage of French filmmakers that brought the word Auteur into our modern vocabulary. I have been waiting eagerly awaiting his next film since his 2009 masterpiece A Prophet and thankfully this has turned out to be the Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts starrer Rust and Bone.

Rust and Bone Poster
New Rust and Bone quad Poster
Rust and Bone
Jacques Audiard, acclaimed director of A Prophet and The Beat That My Heart Skipped, returns with this powerful, tender romantic drama about two people from very different worlds seeking redemption in each other.

Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose, Inception) stars as Stephanie, a killer whale trainer who late one night meets Alain (Matthias Schoenaerts, Bullhead) in a fracas at the nightclub where he works as a bouncer. Put in charge of his young son, Alain has come from Belgium to Antibes to live with his sister and her husband as a family. Alain’s bond with Stephanie grows deeper after she suffers a horrible accident, bringing the two together once more.


The handful of Audiard's films that I have seen (I am always on the look out for his earlier works) have been exceptional, each one full of original & textured characters that inhabit a world much like our own, until Audiard slowly peels back the layers to reveal danger around many corners and hidden depth to his characters.

While his films are original and unpredictable Audiard does not rely on high concept or special effects to try tell his stories rather engaging characters brought to life by exceptional performances. His films are about people and relationships often set to the back drop of underworld activities to create a tension and friction between characters, but the themes he addresses are not only universal, they can also be symbolically linked to every day life, seemingly this approach is not set in stone as with his critically acclaimed A Prophet he added another dimension of bringing an underlying mysticism or spirituality to the fore.

Marion Cotillard Rust and Bone
Marion Cotillard as Stéphanie in Rust and Bone
In Jacques Audiard's 2001 film Sur mes lèvres or Read My Lips starring; Vincent Cassel, Emmanuelle Devos, Olivier Gourmet). The quiet tale of a deaf and lonely office worker who is drawn in to an ex-convict's world when he is placed in her office as part of an prison program is a minor masterpiece.

It is every bit as unpredictable and compelling as A Prophet and Audiard brings out the best from his actors in this tale built around human emotion.

Matthias Schoenaerts Rust and Bone
Matthias Schoenaerts as Alain van Versch in Rust and Bone
I was left near breathless by Jacques Audiard's 2005 work De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté or The Beat That My Heart Skipped starring Romain Duris, Aure Atika, Emmanuelle Devos and Niels Arestrup (the Corsican Godfather from A Prophet), in a similar way to A Prophet, Arestrup is a father figure to the lead and it also draws on similar themes as a musically gifted hood navigates his path torn between being a life of crime or applying his musical abilities. It's absolutely astounding and as with hi other films, we are given a uniquely credibly view into a seedy French underworld.

Matthias Schoenaerts & Marion Cotillard Rust and Bone
Matthias Schoenaerts & Marion Cotillard in Rust and Bone
A Prophet was my top film for 2010 beating out Christopher Nolan's Inception if you are one of the few that has not heard of A Prophet I would be surprised as it bowled audiences over worldwide and raised awareness of Audiard to international audiences. In A Prophet we follow a impressionable and vulnerable young Arab as he is thrust into a hellish prison and initiated into the gang system.

I loved everything about A Prophet, from the understated, powerful acting through to the compelling, gritty story that has a vein of tension running through it and a vérité style camera work that keeps you on edge.

Jacques Audiard balances an uncompromising look at prison and crime with bold mystical elements, making for compelling viewing, despite the fact it really is a hard look at the state of the world we live in.

Alain van Versch Rust and Bone
Matthias Schoenaerts as Alain van Versch in Rust and Bone
With Rust and BoneJacques Audiard is continuing his knack for collaborating with talented actors and this time his cast includes Marion Cotillard as Stéphanie a sea life expert whose life collides with Matthias Schoenaerts' character - Alain van Versch a very physical tough guy (from what I can see so far). Everyone knows Oscar winner Marion Cotillard talented star of  La vie en rose and Inception but possibly less aware of Belgian Matthias Schoenaerts who last noticeable performance was in the 2011 Belgian film  Bullhead or Rundskop which was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

Bullhead is set in the harsh rural farming world of Belgium, a world that is seemingly bereft of civility and politeness, to compound this most of the farmers are relying on steroids and hormone growth to increase the size of their cattle and profits. Loosely based on actual events, the area is controlled by the hormone mafias and Matthias Schoenaerts' character Jacky Vanmarsenille is one of the toughest. Matthias Schoenaerts brings an intimidating menace that masks personal tragedy. 

Schoenaerts performance may have earmarked him for greater things and Audiard may be looking to tap into the same menace and emotional depth for Schoenaerts role as Alain van Versch in Rust and Bone to explore similar elements to his 2001 film Sur mes lèvres or Read My Lips.

If so, the push pull relationships dynamics between Marion Cotillard's character and Schoenaerts' may well be core to the characteristic emotional backbone that runs through all of Jacques Audiard's stories. And no doubt both Cotillard and Schoenaerts are more than capable of lifting the relationship elements of the film to genuinely heartfelt levels.

I should have my full thoughts up on Rust and Bone shortly after seeing it this week, but right now I can hardly contain my excitement.

Rust and Bone is released in cinemas on 2 November 2012

Rust and Bone Poster
Rust and Bone quad Poster
Rust and Bone UK Facebook Page

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