Rust and Bone

Rust and Bone – is it an English pub? Or maybe an interior design firm? Last guess; a few things that have been discovered in a long abandoned house which might be haunted? Actually ‘none of the above‘ is the best guess. Rust and Bone is a French/Belgian film that opened last May in Europe and just this past November here in the USA. Its French title is De rouille et d’os . Heard of it?

This is not just any film. It was nominated for 2 Golden Globes which have come and gone. Still pending are two BAFTA awards which are the British Oscars. The categories: Best Foreign Language Film and Best Actress. More locally, Marion Cotillard has already won the 2012 Hollywood Film Festival Award for Actress of the Year.

In case you have forgotten, Cotillard has appeared in Contagion, Inception, Midnight in Paris, The Dark Knight Rises, and Public Enemies. That’s in addition to having walked off with the Oscar for Best Actress in 2008 for La vie en Rose. In this film, directed by Jacques Audiard, Cotillard playing off her co-star Matthias Schoenaerts, is spectacular.

Audiard is no stranger to my pages. I’ve done reviews on two of his other films including The Beat My Heart Skipped (2005), and Read My Lips (2001). What can you draw from all of the facts above? Right. Audiard is at the forefront of French cinema.

This film, Rust and Bone, won’t need a lot of words from me. I can provide you with all you’ll need to know – just from the trailer.


Cotillard plays Stephanie who lives with a guy she doesn’t love, and she trains and performs with Orcas (Killer Whales) for a living in Antibes, in the south of France.

Matthias Schoenaerts plays Ali. Ali is a down-on-his-luck roughneck. He lacks sensitivity, culture, empathy – you name it he lacks it. That would also include money. He does have a five year old son called Sam. Ali and Sam are so broke they have to scavenge for food unfinished and abandoned by other travelers on the long train ride down to the south of France, where he will live (temporarily) with his married sister while he looks for work.

Ali finds a job as a bouncer at a night club. He breaks up an altercation at the club involving Stephanie. She’s a bit unsteady after being knocked about in the club, and Ali agrees to drive her home in her car.


But this isn’t  a love at first sight kind of film. Stephanie works with the orcas and Ali, desperate for money, starts to fight in illegal boxing matches held at ad hoc fight clubs. You know the kind – held in the street, in basements, in parking garages and where other men bet on the outcomes while watching.


That’s right, there’s some downside straight ahead.

What happens is indeed tragic. Stephanie falls into a deep depression. Ali lives to fight another day, and to have sex with whoever will share his bed. He also takes a part-time job installing illegal spy cams for employers and chain stores who distrust their employees. They lose contact with each other. Until one day Stephanie calls Ali. Did you hear what happened to me?, she asks.  He has, as it was made the news.

At this point, I’ll break off the description. But I have to describe the circumstances regarding me seeing this film. Late this morning, I checked the movie listings for the films playing in town. Rust and Bone was playing at the Burns Court Theater – Sarasota’s local indie theater at 2:00 PM. Rust and Bone. Never heard of it. What is it about? I found the trailer on youtube, watched it, and immediately headed for the theater.

Now you can take my word for it or you can see more of what the film is about by watching the trailer that I’ve included below. If you do watch the trailer, pay attention to the blurbs and comments that are included in the trailer. They’re all true and meaningful about this film’s power and excellence. The theater was almost a complete sell out – 95%  of the seats were taken.  Exiting the theater everything I heard was positive.

This is a love story – not a romance. The people in the film are all damaged and hurt. Neither their lives nor their experiences will bring joy. But watching the film is ever so worthwhile. This is a drama for adults and the leads do not break into songs nor crack wise.

This was a masterful film that you won’t forget if you see it. I’ll score it at four point five zero and recommend it highly. The DVD is not out yet, and Netflix has not made it available just yet. They do however give one the opportunity to Save It for when they do make it available. In the short-term, if this film is playing in your area – do see it.

3 thoughts on “Rust and Bone

  1. Oh, fantastic! I’ve been wanting to see it. Might get the chance next week.

    I’m curious, JMM: why did you start writing out your ranking in the text rather than give a numeral? I can understand why you don’t want to feature a big image that says “4.5” or whatever — is this another attempt to ensure that your readers don’t just seek out the ranking?

    • Thanks Didion – I think this will be a film that you will approve of. It was you who pointed me towards the director Audiard in the first place.

      As for the lack of the image of the ratings – I think it was more accidental or forgetful than a purposeful decision.
      I think you will see the numerical images again. Someday.

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