Until about eighty minutes into Rust and Bone, the film resists predictability. Director Audiard has a couple moments of Marion Cotillard bouncing back after a tragedy to pop music, but they’re punctuated with fantastic postscripts. The postscripts make up for any melodramatic shorthand.
Well, until the eighty minute mark. And then Rust and Bone becomes cloying. The film’s style doesn’t change–it’s still harsh and bright (with fantastic photography from Stéphane Fontaine)–but the storytelling changes. It stops being a character study of Cotillard, who has dominated the film, and slowly transitions back to Matthias Schoenaerts.
Schoenaerts is an amiable, if numb-skulled, single dad who just can’t seem to do right. From the eighty minute mark until the film’s conclusion, instead of being a character study, Rust becomes a redemption melodrama. A well-directed, well-acted redemption melodrama, but still a redemption melodrama. The final couple predictable moments are shockingly forecasted. Audiard and co-screenwriter Thomas Bidegain inexplicably bring in narration at the end; had they used it throughout and in future tense, the film could not be more predictable.
The worst part about the transition from Cotillard to Schoenaerts is there’s no attempt to share. Audiard and Bidegain had worked out a great balance between the two–Cotillard’s even top-billed–and then they flush it to manipulate the viewer.
Truly great editing from Juliette Welfling. Not in the montages, but in the scenes.
Cotillard and Schoenaerts’s beautiful acting make the film worthwhile. It’s just a narrative mess.
Directed by Jacques Audiard; screenplay by Audiard and Thomas Bidegain, based on a story by Craig Davidson; director of photography, Stéphane Fontaine; edited by Juliette Welfling; music by Alexandre Desplat; production designer, Michel Barthélémy; produced by Audiard, Martine Cassinelli and Pascal Caucheteux; released by Lumière.
Starring Marion Cotillard (Stéphanie), Matthias Schoenaerts (Alain van Versch), Armand Verdure (Sam), Céline Sallette (Louise), Corinne Masiero (Anna), Jean-Michel Correia (Richard) and Bouli Lanners (Martial).