“What could have been simply bizarre, sentimental or contrived here becomes an utterly absorbing love story,” begins the Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw. “Rust and Bone is a tale of a miraculous friendship which evolves into an enthralling and moving romance, wonderfully acted by Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts. Jacques Audiard directs, and his screenplay, co-written with Thomas Bidegain, is freely adapted from characters in the short story collection of the same title, by the American author Craig Davidson. This is early days in the festival, but Rust and Bone has to be a real contender for prizes, and, the odds will be shortening to vanishing point for Cotillard getting the best actress award.”“Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts), a muscular bouncer who moonlights as a street fighter, shows up in the north of France at his sister’s place, having abandoned a former flame with a five-year-old son he only knows in passing,” explains indieWIRE‘s Eric Kohn. “Over the course of his work at a local nightclub, he meets the buoyant Stephanie (Marion Cotillard), an agile party woman stuck in a deteriorating relationship. After giving her a ride home, the two part ways, and then naturally find a way back to each other: Stephanie works at a local ocean theme park with trained orca whales, one of whom goes rogue in the middle of a show. The ensuing accident causes her to lose her legs and everything stable about her life; in a state of desperation, she calls Ali and the soft-spoken drifter quickly responds. Their ensuing relationship, an on-again, off-again affair that finds them both attempting to improve each other’s messy lives, sustains Rust and Bone even as its plot ambles along without many significant developments until its closing scenes.””Following on the acclaim of Bullhead, Schoenarts may find his breakthrough here, with comparisons to Tom Hardy to come,” predicts the Playlist‘s Kevin Jagernauth. “He’s similarly a commanding physical presence, but he’s the rare breed with acting chops to spare, finding the vulnerability beneath his character’s exterior which helps us understand him, even when he’s at his selfish worst. As for Cotillard, she’s predictably fantastic, again showing why she’s one of the best actors of her generation.”
Anne Thompson stresses that it’s ‘unsentimental—despite a sweet Alexander Desplat score—and while Audiard says he tried to keep the violence to a minimum, he can’t help but assault us with blood and flying teeth.’
For Cineuropa‘s Fabien Lemercier, Rust and Bone is a “masterly work in which the film director manages to express his immense talent in two spheres with very complex alchemy, melodrama and social film noir.” The Hollywood Reporter‘s Todd McCarthy finds that “Audiard’s visual and dramatic approach is glancing, deliberately fragmented, marked by harsh contrasts between bright, bleached-out light and forbidding darkness.” For the Telegraph‘s David Gritten, Rust and Bone is “a complex, assured, demanding work.”Anne Thompson stresses that it’s “unsentimental—despite a sweet Alexander Desplat score—and while Audiard says he tried to keep the violence to a minimum, he can’t help but assault us with blood and flying teeth.” HitFix‘s Drew McWeeny “first tuned into his work with Read My Lips in 2001. The Beat That My Heart Skipped came next, and for many people, A Prophet was the moment they realized just how strong a clear a voice he has as a filmmaker.” Rust and Bone is “something much richer, more prickly, and more deeply felt than I expected, and I am once again convinced that Audiard is a major voice, an artist of note, and a gifted humanist filmmaker.” FirstShowing‘s Alex Billington: “There’s just something about the way Jacques Audiard tells stories, and crafts characters, that is fresh and invigorating to watch.””Though Audiard already commands respect, the film’s cred is amplified by the involvement of the Dardenne brothers, who produced through their Les Films du Fleuve shingle,” notes Variety‘s Peter Debruge. “Like Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler a few years back, Rust and Bone blends Dardennes-esque naturalism—handheld cameras; raw, tempestuous performances; squalidly realistic production design—with more conventional plotting and compositions.”
Meantime, the Playlist‘s Simon Dang reports that “Cotillard is set to continue her amazing run of collaborations (which includes Audiard, husband Guillaume Canet, Chris Nolan, James Gray, Steven Soderbergh and Woody Allen), now teaming with Iranian helmer Asghar Farhadi, hot off his Oscar-winning family drama A Separation. Details about the film are being kept under wraps, however, the project will be Farhadi’s first shot outside Iran, and is being described as an ’emotional social thriller’ in the vein of A Separation, with multiple twists aimed at keeping the audience in suspense from the first frame to the last.” As for Schoenaerts, he’s “lined up a role in Hans Herbots’s thriller The Treatment. An adaptation of Mo Hayder’s bestselling novel, the story follows detective Jack Caffrey as jumps on a case of a missing young 8-year-old boy that leads him on a heartbreaking and gripping tour de force of suspense.”Updates: The Chicago Tribune‘s Michael Phillips finds that “Audiard hits his theme over and over, like a punch-drunk middleweight: All of us are damaged. We’re all animals under the skin. We all need love. And the entire picture feels like a poetic-grunge generality, with a penchant for jacked-up tension that feels applied to the situation, not pulled from within the people on screen. Cotillard’s role is more a series of attitudes (she swings from suicidal desperation to can-do saint and revived sensualist in no time) than a three-dimensional human being.””Audiard’s overtly heightened style is problematic because it reflects a lack of interest in mining deeper territory and a thoughtless flair for obvious symbolism,” argues Glenn Heath Jr. at Press Play. “This is a cinema of blunt force trauma, of momentary awe, and all the stylized violence and lens flares merely reinforce a lack of heft in the gracefully repulsive scenarios Audiard creates.”In a profile for the cover of the Hollywood Reporter, Cotillard lists her seven favorite films: The Great Dictator (1940), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), I Am Cuba (1964), The Party (1968), The Elephant Man (1980), The King and the Mockingbird (1980) and Tandem (1987).For news and tips throughout the day every day, follow @KeyframeDaily on Twitter and/or the RSS feed.