Friday, December 21, 2012

MUST WATCH FRIDAY: Rust and Bone

Riva/Presents Extra author Heidi Rice gushes about the best love story she's seen on film this year... Seriously!

Wow! Just Wow! That was my first thought after watching Rust and Bone, the new romantic drama by French director Jacques Audiard. The tale of the romance between a killer whale trainer who has been disabled in an accident at the aquarium where she performs and a hard-up single father who makes ends meet by competing in illegal bare-knuckle streetfights this is one of those blow-your-mind movies. Well, it certainly blew mine.

Beautifully directed by Audiard, the film basically places you within the world that these characters inhabit... In the midst of a brutal bare-knuckle fight, on a nightclub dancefloor, during a swim in the sea, etc....  Then lets you watch how they cope with the traumas they have suffered, the significant moments in their lives and with each other and the other people around them. Greatly helped by intuitive performances from Marion Cotillard and newcomer Matthias Schoenaerts, it's really hard to describe how moving and absorbing and just down right wonderful this film is. It's about loss and hardship and trust and loyalty and sex and struggle and parenthood and tenderness and all those delicate, incidental ways in which people connect with each other while they form a relationship.

At the start of the film, Cotillard's Stephanie is able-bodied and an inveterate flirt who enjoys turning men on, while Schoenaerts's Alain is an inarticulate bouncer living a hand-to-mouth existence while trying to bring up the 5-year-old son he barely knows. After a chance meeting at the nightclub where he works and she has been assaulted by a guy, Alain offers to drive her home - basically because he is eager to get into her pants. Cotillard accepts the lift but declines the offer of sex, but he gives her his number and tells her to call if she needs anything. It's an offhand casual encounter, and when Alain gives her his number he's clearly talking about her sexual needs.. And nothing more. Then Cotillard has her accident. Her life is thrown into turmoil, she becomes a recluse and in the midst of her darkest hour, she calls his number....

What happens next is both poignant and gut-wrenching and at the same time beautifully understated. He takes her to the beach, gets her to go for a swim and for the first time since the accident she can get joy out of something again. He doesn't pity her. He's completely honest and open with her to the point of being cruel in some ways, but it's that lack of pity that makes her feel like a woman again. A person. Instead of a disability. And she in turn teaches him how to trust someone, and how to respect himself as well as the people he's with - something that he doesn't appear to have a lot of experience with. Thus begins a friendship which leads to sex - Alain very thoughtfully offers to 'f**k' her when she worries that she may not be sexually operational any more! - and eventually, very slowly to love. There are no great big revelations, no gushing, no manipulation of the emotions in this film (although there are some very tense, dramatic moments), everything is as blunt and as brutal and yet as beautiful as life itself... And I loved it.



Go see it. And I dare you not to fall in love with Matthias Schoenaerts, too!

Heidi has two books out this month: Entangled Indulgence Baby It's Cold Outside, a seasonal anthology with fellow authors Kate Hardy, Amy Andrews and Aimee Carson and her latest Harlequin Presents Extra, One Night, So Pregnant! 

You can talk to her on her blog, on Facebook, on her website or Twitter (@HeidiRomRice)

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