Rust and Bone

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(2012) ★★★

Film4: Sunday 7 June, 1.15am

La Vie en Rose Oscar winner Marion Cotillard and Bullhead’s Belgian bruiser Matthias Schoenaerts make a distinctly odd couple in a freaky Biutiful and the Beast. It’s being screened to celebrate director Jacques Audiard’s Palme d’Or victory for his new film, Dheepan, at this year’s Cannes film festival. Audiard’s previous feature was 2009’s Cannes favourite A Prophet, a gritty (if overly familiar) and disciplined prison drama that deprived Michael Haneke’s masterful The White Ribbon of Best Foreign Film at the Baftas. Set in the Eurozone recession, Rust and Bone is a stylised romantic fable that’s a bit of a shambles: part naturalistic, part melodramatic, occasionally clumsy. The performances keep it compelling, particularly Cotillard’s. She works with orcas at Marineland. That’s how she loses her legs. Schoenaerts is a security guard making money on the side by bareknuckle boxing with gypsies. She’s vulnerable. He’s blunt. As a lover and a fighter. And maybe not cut out to be a dad. Apparently inspired by the vintage Hollywood pictures Freaks and Nightmare Alley, Audiard and his co-writer Thomas Bidegain made substantial changes to Craig Davidson’s source book, a collection of short stories. As well they might. The Canadian Davidson is also the author of the novel The Fighter. Look how well that turned out.

Certificate: 15
Duration: 123min