Leeds Film Festival 2012 Review: Rust and Bone

It€™s after this scene, though, that Rust and Bone decides to forget about structure, an approach that isn€™t entirely successful. Where Audiard€™s masterful A Prophet had a tight, driven story to fit its ruthlessly opportunistic protagonist, Rust and Bone is about an aimless drifter who meets a woman in search of meaning, and the film acts accordingly. It appears expository material may have been left on the cutting room floor, or maybe Audiard just wanted it to feel that way €“ disjointed, random like life. Whatever the reason, it's more often jarring than compelling. For a long expanse of time, subplots clatter clumsily into one another. Ali€™s volatile relationships with his son and sister flare up intermittently. His nefarious money-making scheme with a co-worker is shoehorned in for the sake of a strained later plotpoint. And Stephanie€™s early promiscuous behaviour is never explained; neither is why her live-in boyfriend disappears after her accident. There are several threads that begin this way, from nowhere, and that disappear without reason. Still, Rust and Bone€™s merits lay beyond structure. The overall result transcends negatives because there€™s impact in Audiard€™s camera, whatever€™s happening. That€™s what he€™s all about really: impact, and reality. He understands how to make you feel the sting of a punch or the warmth of a burgeoning love affair, bringing a visceral edge most directors can only dream of tapping into. Rust and Bone lacks focus, and there€™s a vast middle section made up of narrative messiness, but Audiard never fails to make an impact. Schoenaerts and Cotillard, too, are at the top of their game and it's their intelligent performances, surrounded by Audiard's raw, perceptive style, that makes the film work so well. If it€™s not quite as memorable as A Prophet, Rust and Bone is just as absorbing.

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Lover of film, writer of words, pretentious beyond belief. Thinks Scorsese and Kubrick are the kings of cinema, but PT Anderson and David Fincher are the dashing young princes. Follow Brogan on twitter if you can take shameless self-promotion: @BroganMorris1