Jacques Audiard’s last feature, A Prophet, is seen by many as one of the best films of the last decade, resulting in a lot of buzz and excitement for his latest film, Rust and Bone, starring the wonderful Marion Cotillard. Arguably two of the best French film-makers of recent years, the film has been greatly revered by critics as a touching love story. However, the film is in many ways Audiard’s worst to date.
It tells the story of two people in tragic circumstances: Ali, a wannabe fighter, struggling to raise his young son in the absence of his mother and with little money made in illegal fighting rings, and Stephanie fighting through the pain of losing both her legs in a tragic killer whale accident. The two meet, fall in love and help each other correct their lives. It is a plot done time and again in America, and isn’t much better than the Hollywood versions. Both leads act well and carry the film for large parts, but the ending seems rushed, and within the first twenty minutes it is not difficult to say where the film will go. Many will still enjoy it, welling up at the feel-good ending, deeming it with greater artistic merits because of the film-makers involved and the fact that it is French. However it is a very safe film after the masterpiece that was A Prophet, and is a great disappointment.
Anyone who has seen Audiard’s previous work will know some of his films tend to be a bit eccentric and more predictable, but this is less enjoyable than those. While A Self Made Hero was predictable in places, it seemed less generic, scenes were not cheesy and it never felt like a drag. During points of Rust and Bone the plot grinds to a halt as you wait for it to finish. It is not a bad film, but it is not the masterpiece many are making to out to be. It feels like a Hollywood film; not a fault in itself, but what is an issue is that it feels like an average Hollywood film, not the latest by one of cinema’s foremost creative talents.
Many will still probably enjoy this, and it is very much an enjoyable film to see one afternoon, but the film is unlikely to stay with you, and may not be worth the energy to buy on DVD.
Article: Thomas McDonald