RUST AND BONE (DE ROUILLE ET D’OS). 2012. DIRECTED BY JACQUES AUDIARD. STARRING MATTHIAS SCHOENARTS AND MARION COTILLARD. SCREENED AS PART OF THE IRISH FILM INSTITUTE’S 2015 FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
This is possibly the most extraordinary film I’ve ever seen in my life. It beat off serious competition from a selection of other brilliant films to become my personal favourite movie of the IFI’S 2015 French Film Festival.
When I watched Jacques Audiard’s masterpiece A PROPHET, which was introduced by the director himself, I thought that that was going to be my film of the festival. Now we have a new king. Monsieur Audiard would hopefully be pleased, though, that it’s his other masterpiece that’s done it, haha.
Here’s how the story goes. Ali is a big burly handsome guy who meets Stephanie while he’s working as a bouncer at the Annexe nightclub in France. There’s a connection there but nothing happens between them until after Stephanie has what the festival brochure calls ‘a workplace accident.’ The words ‘a workplace accident’ don’t quite cover it. Do you want to know what really happens to her? If you don’t, skip the next two paragraphs…
Stephanie is a highly interesting character with an unusual job. She’s unspeakably beautiful, but she’s also got character in abundance. She’s got guts and balls to spare, in fact. She works at Marineland, a French equivalent of SeaWorld.
In some of the most powerful scenes I’ve ever seen, she loses both her legs below the knee to one of the magnificent Orcas she’s paid to train and encourage to perform. What happens is so huge, the words ‘workplace accident’ just don’t seem to do it justice. If you watch it, you’ll know what I mean. It would certainly make you think about the downside of places like that.
An unspecified amount of time after the accident, Stephanie gets in touch with Ali. He’s a good-looking, fit muscle-bound guy, but he’s not exactly one of life’s success stories. He lives with his big sister Anna and her partner because he has nowhere else to go.
He’s an indifferent father to his five-year-old son Sam, whose mum is no longer in the picture. Sometimes he even gets a bit rough with the child. Ali works as a security guard in a supermarket now and he doesn’t have relationships with women, he just uses ’em for sex. Get the picture…? Right.
Ali is surprisingly cool about the fact that Stephanie no longer has legs below the knee. He seems to like her and he even helps her into the sea for a swim, something she’s clearly been longing to do. He doesn’t give a toss about being seen with her on the beach while other people are pointing and staring. Mind you, he doesn’t seem to give a flying fig about anything but the illegal boxing matches he’s been asked to do by a guy he works with.
Against a background of Ali beating the shite out of other men for money, or sometimes getting battered in turn, the pair slowly develop a relationship. When Stephanie confesses to the perpetually horny Ali that she’s afraid she’s forgotten how to have sex, Ali casually offers to ‘fuck her,’ just as calmly as if he were volunteering to make her a cup of tea. Not too surprisingly, Stephanie agrees. Well, he’s pretty gorgeous, haha.
Their sex scenes are both hilarious and touching. When Stephanie says she doesn’t want to be kissed on the mouth and Ali matter-of-factly responds with: ‘Are breasts okay?’ the whole audience burst out laughing. It doesn’t matter to Ali that Stephanie has no legs below the knee. Did you ever hear of a guy being described as someone who’d ‘fuck anything on two legs…?’ Well, I thought of that description while watching these scenes…
Afterwards, when he asks her if it was good and she replies that it was good but she’d need to try it again just to be sure, the audience laughed out loud once more. Ali takes her response in good part. He tells her that any time she’s feeling horny in the future, all she needs to do is to call him. That’s exactly what they do, but the relationship is not without its challenges, not least of which is Ali’s casual womanising and disrespectful attitude towards women and sex.
Does this extraordinarily attractive couple go the distance? Does Ali ever get his act together as a dad? Is there full-frontal male nudity? You’ll have to watch the film for yourself to find out. Well, I can tell you now about the male nudity. Yes, there is. And don’t think for a second that I didn’t appreciate it.
The film has a terrific pounding soundtrack that really does the business. It includes some music from the soundtrack of hit HBO Mafia drama series THE SOPRANOS, like Bruce Springsteen’s Mister State Trooper and that amazing song about a place called ‘Chickentown’ that features at the end of one of the later episodes of the show. It signifies the end of all the half-assed messing about and the beginning of the end. It’s one of the most memorable endings on the show. Jacques Audiard, the director, told us as he introduced his 2009 film, A PROPHET, that he totally referenced THE SOPRANOS while making his movie. Obviously he’s a huge fan like myself. Oh, and by the way, yes, apparently I hobnob with directors now…!
Most powerful scenes besides the ones I’ve already mentioned? Stephanie showing off her lovely new prosthetic legs to Ali. Stephanie reconnecting emotionally- and as physically as she’s able- with the Orcas who’ve taken off her legs. Ali’s tooth careering across the dirty floor after it’s just been knocked out of his mouth in a particularly vicious fight. Ali and little Sam playing together on the frozen lake, and the terrible aftermath. The whole film is just breath-taking in the impact it has on the unsuspecting viewer. Watch it. It’s bloody brilliant. Full stop.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:
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4) ANOTHER FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
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