Rust and Bone (De Rouille et D’os) features two superb lead performances given by both Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts, who play two people that are drawn together by a catastrophe. The relationships between characters are well crafted, and whilst they each individually struggle through a serious amount of emotional turmoil, the film overall is handled well enough to not have distanced me with this onslaught. One of its most notable accomplishments is how it infuses numerous clichés with a surprisingly new lease of life; some mixture of the script, performances and direction has resulted in this fairly miraculous process, where these instantly recognisable moments still occur, and yet felt almost original to me. Rust and Bone also looks wonderful, with beautiful cinematography that’s most notable when it’s used in contrast against the film’s brutality. This clash results in a couple of real standout powerful moments, and gave them a wonderful electric tension. Unfortunately the plot does feel episodic at times; as a series of events occur, offshoot on their own separate path, and then end without strongly tying back into the story, and this does detract from the film, however overall it’s not a serious problem and doesn’t grate all that much.
Schoenaerts is pretty impressive in his role, not only due to the raw and layered performance that he brings, but also because he holds his own against Cotillard who delivers exceptionally here. Although I went in to the film pretty much expecting a great performance from her, she still managed to blow me away by raising the emotional stakes with a naturalistic and piercing performance. It’s easily the best I’ve seen all year. The two lead characters are far from perfect people, they have their flaws and if the film had slipped it could have made them deeply unlikeable, instead it straddles the fine line between overcompensating with a sentimentalised view of them, and the opposite where it would make them completely unrelatable and inhuman. Rust and Bone isn’t faultless; it may not completely tie together, plot strands and characters can be left to fade a little into the backdrop, but it does so very much right that I still rate it pretty highly. I found that it lingered with me for a considerable length of time after having watched it, it coloured the rest of my day, and that in itself is fairly rare.