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Rust and Bone: A simply beautiful film that stands on its own (pun totally intended)


Marion Cotillard in "Rust and Bone."  ©Sony Pictures Classics

Marion Cotillard in “Rust and Bone.”
©Sony Pictures Classics


Despite Rust and Bone (De Rouille et d’Os) earning a spot on many critics’ top ten movies of 2012, including Le Movie Snob’s, it was completely snubbed by the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences.  Keep in mind that only one film is allowed to be submitted by each country.

France chose to submit The Intouchables (Les Intouchables), instead of this movie, which was a stupid choice.  Oscar expects serious submissions that reflect its legitimacy as cinema’s kingmaker, not a feel-good movie for the masses.  That’s why this category is so boring every year.

Even among Movie Snobs, how many of you can name your favorite Oscar winner for Best Foreign Movie without having to think?  (If you can, please comment and amaze me.)

(Amour, despite its French title and dialogue, is Austria’s submission.)

I will admit that I was not brimming with anticipation to watch a movie about a woman who loses her legs to a killer whale and then is redeemed by love.  That sounds like a laughable movie, and I have no doubt it would have been had it been made by the very members of the Academy who dismissed it.

Enfin bref, the Academy’s oversight does not diminish the power of this movie, nor does it vindicate a vacuous critic who could not not laugh watching it (I refuse to dignify them with a link).

In reviewing others’ reviews, I’m noticing a bit of Holy Motors Syndrome occurring; that is to say, because it’s a French movie, people are ascribing all kinds of metaphors and meanings, intellectualizing the movie-and assuming by proxy themselves.


Here are some of the more asinine comments I found:

it’s a Beauty and the Beast story with a contemporary shape, aspiring to free-float into a classic romance while still remaining grounded in today’s harsh realities  -um, no it’s not, and I don’t understand anything you say after ‘beast.”

dense with character and subtle in its narrative construction, tracing two lives as they collide but refuse to intersect.  -actually they do intersect, especially during coitus- did you see the Mormon cut?

manages to subvert convention and contrived scenarios by becoming more complex in what is presented.  -what the hell does this even mean?

The most effective moments in Rust and Bone have to do with the joys and perils of possessing a body…..      – just say you enjoyed the numerous sex scenes

An unconventional romance that isn’t particularly romantic, it’s about two damaged people who are pulled together even though the attraction is hard to pinpoint, the “growth” too insignificant to measure.  -can’t wait to see that movie!!!

A short scene of Stéphanie rocking out alone in her wheelchair to the sound of the B-52s’ “Love Shack” tells us everything we need to know about the mojo she’s slowly recovering. And a later scene, in which Stéphanie returns alone to Marineland to re-encounter the orcas who deprived her of her legs, must surely represent the most exhilarating narrative use to which Katy Perry’s “Firework” has ever been put.  – this might just be the stupidest comment I’ve ever read not least because the latter moment she describes, perhaps the most moving scene in the entire movie, is mostly SILENT, with a gentle instrumental (that is not the Muszak “Firework) closing the scene. I think the Katy Perry song was playing in her head. imbécile.

N’importe quoi….

Matthias Schoenaerts (very fast rising Flemish star) plays Alain (Ali), a wandering voyou (thug) who drags his young burden of a son Sam (Armand Verdure) down to the coastal city of Antibes to mooch off his world-weary sister Anna (an excellent Corinne Masiero) and her husband.  He’s selfish, not above committing crimes with his son in tow so they can live to see another desperate moment.

Marion Cotillard plays Stéphanie, an Orca trainer at a French Sea World.  Their paths cross when they hook up at a bar where Stépahnie has fled, seeking sexual validation after a fight with her boyfriend.  Stéphanie drunkenly begins some violent bar drama, and always-ready-for-a-fight Ali steps in to protect her and makes sure she makes it home safely.

Not long after, Stéphanie is at Franco Sea World, going through her usual routine of conducting dancing killer whales when unexpectedly, she is attacked.  Yes, the Katy Perry song “Firework” is what the whales are dancing to-there’s nothing to read into here folks, move along.

Because this is a French movie, we are spared the bloody details of this tragic act, a temptation I doubt an American director could resist.

Predictably, Stéphanie is shaken by what has befallen her.  At one point, the isolation of her rehabilitation inspires her to call Ali.

Improbably, but believably, these two forge a bond.

Ali is a selfish brute who seems completely devoid of empathy.  Stéphanie is a victim of brutality.  Even as Ali continues to obliviously cause harm to others, he does good by Stéphanie.  His very barbarism prevents him from pitying her, inadvertently bringing her back to life.  Because of this, Stéphanie doesn’t see the voyou-Ali the rest of the world does so maybe he can stop being one.

Director Jacques Audiard forces us to acknowledge that brutality and kindness co-exist in all of us; we believe our judgments protect us, but in truth they deceive us.   To confront this dichotomy takes courage, and a willingness to not reduce life to the frou-frou bullshit quoted above.







This site was borne of my passion for movies, particularly French films. I have spent time in France and am fluent in the language, hence the “le”. The “snob” part, while of French origin, is not meant to intimidate, but rather an effort to reclaim the word from the pretentious, just as the gay community has done with the word “queer.” We’re all snobs; we all like what we like.

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