A woman loses her legs in freak accident with killer whale after forming a bond with a drifter-bouncer who rescues her dignity from a nightclub brawl.
A cinematic miracle has taken place in “Rust and Bone.” Not only has such a rare and high stakes situation been rendered plausible but electrifying. That this bizarre set of circumstances has resulted in a film of such revelatory emotional depth is surely because the soul-searching buoyancy of Marion Cotillard has collided with the unhinged Matthias Schoenaerts.
To say the performances are hypnotic is an understatement. Fully comprehending their unique powers, Jacques Audiard has created a universe where brutal street fighting and near death by killer whale are almost a relief, such is the tension he builds externally around these workaday supernovas.
To place two of the most talented , attractive and fearless performers working today in such a physical yet unsentimental relationship to the other would be tension enough .
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“You want to fuck,” he finally says — the banality of this perfectly pitched and placed come-on line is met buy such a confused and conflicted response by Marion, who is still coming to terms with her life-changing accident.
Her response is symptomatic of how perfectly this actress has pitched her performance in relation to the unfolding nightmare of her characters situation. The ripples of current experience colliding with past yearnings and the fear of an uncertain future, flash in a microsecond of screen time.Marion has created a unique and groundbreaking combination of the erotic, the banal and incendiary. In “Rust and Bone,” she once again reminds us she is a master of unflinching psychological complexity delivered with a featherweight touch. She allows us in only long enough to reflect our deepest fears back on ourselves.
This film surely crowns her as an actress with little regard for the power of her cinematic beauty, except when she can harness it to reveal the hidden depth to her character and her existential melancholy: a yearning that is simultaneously so open and generous, so closed and defended that we weep for her. Perhaps it is this remarkable unguarded quality that allows Marion to reveal such emotional brutality and fragility almost in the same breath. Revealing strength in the face of monumental uncertainty, Marion has created a character of nobility and candour, seamlessly melding herself into a world we could not have known without her. Her performance is as unexpected and as unsentimental and raw as the film itself.
She is, in a breath, simply astonishing. Yet again.