|Matthias Schoenaerts and Marion Cotillard in Rust and Bone|
Note: The following contains spoilers.
Here’s the thing. Any premise involving matters of the heart that pops up in a French film is automatically believable simply because the French never, or almost never, cop out when it comes to purveying honest, adult emotions on screen. So in that vein, the love affair between Ali, a rough hewn boxer (Matthias Schoenaerts) and Stéphanie, a troubled, angry woman (Marion Cotillard) who has lost her legs in a tragic accident in Jacques Audiard’s Rust and Bone (De rouille et d'os) is utterly authentic, even when he's fucking her sans her prosthetics. In any other movie, and particularly an American one, The Sessions excepting, that type of scene would likely come across as awkwardly staged, self-conscious, even risible, but in Rust and Bone, those scenes have both a surprising gentleness and a distinct erotic charge. The problem is that the rest of the film’s plot threads don’t tie up with this one. Rust and Bone is an admirably ambitious movie that, outside of its leads' story, simply doesn’t hold together. It’s an uneasy mix of the tough and tender.