Rust and Bone (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
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Rust and Bone (2012)

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Let me carry youAndrew LIKE BannerThere are too many colors.  Red, purple, blue, yellow, green, all splayed across the frame with  little structure.  Then we see a hand.  Reaching out from the random prism the hand takes someone's face.  We see relief.  Then the shape begins to form with hands and faces, bodies, some intertwined and some at a slight distance but still they touch.

Still they touch.  No matter how random the pattern may seem there are still two figures reaching out from across a willingly impenetrable spectrum of visual experience so that they can try and feel something.  This is the chaos we've created, but we can still feel each other.  If you can't trust emotion, which lies to us as much as anything else, how about sensation?

My first memory is a two-fold split between when I broke my foot and when I had my fingers beaten into a vacuum cleaner.  Both times was held in a rocking chair until I stopped crying.  My mom was able to keep the rhythm going during the day and I remember the way the hall light looked on my dad's face when he took over at night.  When I became an adult the lowest moment was when I begged for my face to be touched.  The highest when someone reached over without me asking.

Loss can both be sudden and gorgeous to others.

Loss can both be painful and gorgeous, a dynamic the film explores in great depth.

Film is an art-form that values the cerebral too often as an art, and the physical as a spectacle.  Here is a film that caters to the latter so precisely in the emotions it evokes that the whole system should be brought into court.

There are still weighty melodramatic components to Rust and Bone.  The movie is about a woman who trains Orcas to perform silly tricks and the street-fighting man who loves her.  Or is it about the woman who loses more of herself than she can bare and the man so consumed by rage that he can't live without an outlet?  Perhaps a way in which the complex exchange of straightforward fear and pain gives way to nuance?  I love how the overblown melodrama of one becomes a mutual exchange of pain and fear in another.

Stephanie (Marion Cotillard) meets Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) during one of her drunken spurts in town.  She trains whales to do her bidding and he breaks people who don't follow the rules.  He seems to have enough sense to get his son away from his supposedly terrible mother, while she can barely stay out of fights she tries to start at bars in the middle of the night.  Then she loses her legs and he almost kills his son.

Who is the impulse and who is the intelligence here?  Neither.  Both.  They sense something in the other that it seems neither is going to have the capacity to explain.  But the way that Jacques Audiard's film sent me into tears so often is how he tries to make sense of their way.

I can understand if people think the visual metaphors are excessive, but they still near perfection.

I can understand if people think the visual metaphors are excessive, but they still near perfection.

I have not seen a film that so emphasizes the way we feel when someone touches us.  Audiard, who wrote the screenplay along with Thomas Bidegain, understands this in understated ways.  When Stephanie is exposed to the sunlight for the first time she is nauseous.  Ali, when trying to be tender, just says "Hold me."  When both are angry they are violent at the people who don't deserve the treatment they are capable of providing.  Too many bloody faces erupt from an encounter from either of these two.

Audiard keeps the camera close.  It's impossible to escape from any embrace or violent motion from the two.  Many times he just sits back and regards the struggle be it Stephanie hoisting herself into a machine that will give her new legs or Ali carrying his son into a new life.  Other times he gets in close, letting the buzz of a tattoo pen inscribe new meaning or an unrelenting obstacle refusing to give way.  In these moments the soundtrack freezes and the pounding of fists on solid objects becomes too clear, or the over-sensitive whimper of a newly reborn life exposed to nature for the first time.  More than anything else, Audiard is here obsessed with the way the sensations of life keep us here.

It's hard to remember sometimes.  Too often we're asked to ponder the big questions of what it means when we pass.  What about the simple ones?

If you hit someone, they feel pain.  If you touch an object, you'll feel your skin rub against a foreign surface.  If you coax gentle pleasure, you may bring someone back to life.

Stephanie and Ali are in need of that kind of resurrection.  It's beautiful how they're able to feel through it together.

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Rust and Bone - TailRust and Bone (2012)

Directed by Jacques Audiard.
Screenplay written by Audiard and Thomas Bidegain.
Starring Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts.

Posted by Andrew

Comments (2) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Really interesting take on the film. I hadn’t considered how it so perfectly conveys what it feels like to touch, and be touched. I really quite enjoyed this movie, and it was very refreshing to read such a unique perspective about it. Good stuff!

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