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Rust and Bone

April 7, 2013

Rust and Bone movie poster


Bare knuckle boxing, killer whales and the greatest incorporation of Katy Perry’s song “Firework”  in a palpable independent film. Rust and Bone ia somewhat love story that features familiar themes told in an unpredictable manner.

Rust and Bone killer whale


Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts provide a wonderful one-two punch as two very different people meeting at an odd time. Cotillard recently lost her legs due to an accident while training killer whales. Matthias has a shady past and has recently transplanted to Antibes where he works as a bouncer/security guard/bare knuckle boxer. They are wrong for each other but both have aspects that they both need. Cotillard loves the brutish quality and no nonsense demeanor while he likes her glamour and presence. He is similar with the killer whales she works with because of his unpredictability and threat of immediate violence. There is a scene in the film where Matthias drives a drunk Cotilard home from a bar where she is involved in an altercation. He goes upstairs to get some ice for his hand and meets her boyfriend. He is a little fella whom prefers wine to bare knuckle boxing and is instantly humiliated and emasculated  by the large foreign fella in his home. The little guy asks the bouncer to leave and instead he leaves his phone number with his girlfriend. Soon after Cottillard is injured she calls him because he won’t pity her and has the brutish strength to protect her.

Rust and Bone beach


What follows are quiet moments, fist fights and a visceral experience. Director Jacques Audiard (A Prophet) has become incredibly adept at creating palpable cinema. A.O. Scott  of the NYT summed it up when he wrote

“Mr. Audiard, who sometimes seems impatient with the limitations of film as a visual medium. He wants you to smell the sweat and feel the fleshy impact of every moment, to climb inside the suffering, yearning skins of Ali and Stephanie and feel the things that they do, whether they are swimming, fighting or having sex.”

Rust and Bone


The movie has a raw feel that makes you feel each punch, drop of sweat and tear. Cotillard is always great and Schoenaert is a reliable tough guy who is occasionally nice and believable in his violent bursts. He keeps a calm demeanor as he beats people up and you can sense the rush that he and Cotillard get when people are punched in the face. The fights in the film are quick, violent and ultimately believable. They seem like something you would see in backyards all around the world. Schoenaert doesn’t look like the toughest fighter but he incorporates a well balanced and believable mixture of thai clinches, knees and straight punches. His fights are not stylishly fantastic like the fights featured in Snatch, Fighting or anything involving JCVD in an underground tournament of doom.

Rust and Bone bare knuckle boxing


Rust and Bone is cinema at it’s finest. It isn’t content to tell a stock story or pander to melodrama. It balances big themes in small ways. You  can taste the salt of the ocean when Cotillard is swimming and the punches seem real. The film draws you in instead of pushing you away. Some films create a cool distance to the storytelling. However, Rust and Bone invites you in and keeps you there.

Watch Rust and Bone. Don’t become a bare knuckle boxer. Appreciate a unique take on familiar themes.


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