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Rust and Bone (Blu-ray Review)

1 Apr, 2013 By: Mike Clark

Sony Pictures
Box Office $2.06 million
$30.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray
‘R’ for strong sexual content, brief graphic nudity, some violence and language.
In French with English subtitles.
Stars Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts.

Sony Classics gave Amour a major Oscar marketing push that obviously paid off well, but at the very least Michael Haneke’s achievement wasn’t that disproportionately superior to this four-Cesar winner from France. For an absorbing love story that compels on multiple levels (and not just the amour-ish), this one exceeded my expectations despite having been widely lauded not just by reviewers but also by several work colleagues currently laboring with me at an art cinema.

In a movie not likely to be double-billed with Orca unless perhaps I return to professional programming, the heavily employed Marion Cotillard plays a trainer of “entertainment” whales at one of those Marineland kind of places who keeps her head on straighter than Captain Ahab did following a work-related catastrophe. Coping with the loss of both legs, she refuses to lose her resolve, and there’s a great bit here midway in where an insensitive guy in a bar takes pity on her state when none has been solicited (to put it mildly).

And speaking of insensitivity, this is where co-star Matthias Schoenaerts fits in — playing someone with the kind of Jake LaMotta tunnel-vision you probably have to have to be one of those practitioners of extreme boxing — the kind where anything goes and your scar tissue has scar tissue. In contrast to Cotillard, his character is not physically but emotionally handicapped — though he has the surprise instincts to ask her to the beach, which is possibly where she wanted to go in the first place (she did, after all, work with water).

Director/co-writer Jacques Audiard’s follow-up to the Oscar-nominated A Prophet is several movies in one — and top-of-the-line when it’s viewed as a story of two people who’d have never gotten together in the first place were it not for a fluke tragedy. But it’s also a decent father-son story, an even better strained-sibling story and even something of a side-issue movie concerning the kind of corporate labor abuse that might well capture the imagination of a documentarian like Barbara Kopple. It is also, as you’ll see, a magnificent special effects movie as well. At least initially, one keeps looking for evidence of visual trickery when it comes to the Cotillard character’s loss of limbs — but to no “aha!” avail. And though the actress won an Oscar for playing Edith Piaf in La vie en rose, I’m not at all sure she’ll deserve to be remembered any more for that memorable turn than this one, a standout in a good 2012 movie year.

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