Rust and Bone (15)

Directed by Jacques Audiard
Based on a story by Craig Davidson
Screening at FACT

Reviewed by Joe Coventry

Some out of date fromage frais is the fulcrum on which Andiard’s stunning film will turn. A schism between a brother and sister will bring salvation and normality to the lives grievously traumatised by what has gone before.

In an enigmatic start, itinerant chancer Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts), with downcast five year old son Sam (Verdure) in tow, departs northern France for the sunnier climes of Antibes in the south. Liberal use of the thumb and dingy train carriages edge the hapless pair to Louise’s (Celine Sallette) house. Reduced to foraging for comestibles from other commuter’s leftovers, they gorge to excess on the arrival and the mysteries of the hierarchically stocked fridge sets their new life in motion.

An ex-martial arts practitioner Ali finds work as a night club bouncer while Louise sorts out Sam. An altercation at the club introduces Ali to Stéphanie (Marion Cotillard) who sizzles onto the screen with a bloody nose.

The wheel turns; Ali, now a security guard receives a call out of the blue from Stéphanie, who has been in the news after a tragic accident at work has reduced her to a wheelchair bound depressed existence. Stepping up to the plate, Ali transforms the double amputee’s life, lifting her out of gloom and at turns back into bed or the buoyancy of the sea. Detached and bemused at first, a passionate coming together ensues. The aberrant male libido means that permanency is not yet assured though.

Ali’s penchant for making extra money through illegal bare-knuckle fights adds another dimension to their relationship. He is persuaded in this activity by Martial (Bouli Lanners), who also gets him involved in secret surveillance of factory and supermarket workers on the take.

Louise gets sacked and Ali has to leave. Retreating to Strasbourg he joins a boxing camp. Stéphanie frets his absence while Sam visits him for a brief re-union which is a real heart stopper. In the hands on finalé Ali must prevent a black hole consuming his world and the people he loves in it.

There is nothing rusty on show here. With great in-your-face performances, a visceral sound track and at times spectacular visuals, this production cannot help but enthral.

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