You never could trust Shamu, now could you?
The story itself centers on a penniless man down-on-his-luck (Matthias Schoenaerts) and his fateful encounter with a beautiful young woman (Marion Cotillard) who ends up losing her legs in a horrific accident at a marine park.
Going into this movie, knowing it’s from the French and knowing it’s about a complex relationship between two human-beings, will have you think many happy and lovely things. However, the words “lovely” and happy” do not fit with this film at all and is instead, every bit of sad, depressing, and dark as there is to be seen. Being a movie that’s sad, depressing, and dark doesn’t necessarily make a film that I want to watch on a Lazy Sunday when my thoughts are already upsetting as it is, but it still does make a flick that I want to see when I’m in the right-mood for it, right?
Well, watching a depressing movie when you’re sort of feeling down in the dumps, isn’t always the best-option, but in my case, I thought it was and I was actually pretty wrong. I went into this flick expecting to be sad, especially after I had such a shitty night as it was (didn’t get lucky, not at all), and I ended-up coming up pretty happy. Did I get to see some of Ms. Cotillard in all of her finest glory? Yes, but that’s not the point, the point is that the flick definitely won’t bring your hopes-up, but it will have you look at things around you in a more clearer, happier-way, than maybe before you hadn’t before. It’s not like watching a movie about two people’s lives that are pretty sad as it is, won’t make you feel better about yours, but watching a movie that pokes at the idea of making yourself happy by realizing that it’s not so bad out-there and that you can always make things better for yourself, in terms of situations or surroundings, definitely resonates with me, especially, after a crappy night. I’m sorry that I keep going back to it, but it’s the truth: my night blew and this flick made it a bit better, so what else can I say?
Director of A Prophet, Jacques Audiard brings a very down-beat sense of style that shows the utter horrors of life that some of these people descend to, but also the beauty of it as well that may have you looking at the glass half-full by the end of this. For instance, there’s a big-contrast between two of the very-different worlds out there when you take into consideration what these characters actually do for a living and how they make it that way. Schoenaerts’ character part-takes in a life where all he does is fight and fuck, and that’s the way he lives it, despite being a pretty shitty father and almost never knowing how to actually handle the nonsensical-acts that his 5-year-old son does. The scenes with this guy are pretty brutal, especially since all of his fights feel real and are as bloody as you are going to see any, other UFC fight for the rest of the year. Probably doesn’t help that we have less than 2 weeks left of the year of 2012, but still, if you need a quick-fix of bloody-fights, check-out the scenes from this movie and your need will probably be cured. Just don’t watch the rest of the movie, or you just may have the need for jumping off of a bridge.
Whereas Schoenaerts’ character’s life is filled with utter sense of grit and ugliness, Cotillard’s is filled with happiness and light, even if she seems to be the one who has it worse. She finds it really easy to look on the bright-side of things, really quickly after her incident happens and you see how she comes to terms that she’ll never get her legs back, she’ll never be able to swim with the Killer Whales again, and she’ll never be able to walk again on her own, two feet. This is a beautiful-aspect of the flick that rarely comes out, but when it does, it hits you hard and very well, and doesn’t feel cheap in the least-bit. What’s even more surprising is that the two most touching scenes of the whole movie is one that’s played in absolute silence, and another one that’s played to the track of Katy Perry’s “Firework”. Yes, it sounds cheesy, but it isn’t and it’s a real surprise that at the end of the flick, this is the one track that may be stuck in your head long-after. Next time I hear that track, I’m going to be thinking some weird, weird things, man.
And if we were to be talking about what really makes this flick work as well as it does, it is in-fact, Marion Cotillard’s character and the performance she gives for her. Cotillard, as we all know, is a beautiful woman that has the look and grace of an old-school, leading-lady that took the men by storm, and the audiences rushing to the cinema’s to see them. However, all that beauty and grace is rarely ever showed here and instead, is used to cover-up the fact that this character is pretty damn drab to look-at. Definitely not the type of Cotillard we all know and love to stare-at (Am I right, men?), but she uses that to her advantage and gives-off a performance that says so much, without saying anything at all. Just a look of her face tells you exactly what’s going through her mind, at that case in-point and there’s a couple of scenes that really have you feel this girl’s pain, sadness, but also, her out-look on life and how positive it gets over time. Cotillard is getting a lot of looks and praise for this performance, and as she should, mainly because it’s the first time I have ever heard her speak in her native-tongue, and also, because she’s not afraid to get down and dirty with her characters, no matter how damn gorgeous she is.
Also, special nods go-out to whoever did the CGI on her legs and made it seem like she really did lose them. Honestly, I kept-on staring at them in every scene she was in, just to see if I could spot a mishap or fake-spot in the film, but I just couldn’t find it. We can get a legless Marion Cotillard right, but we still have yet to master the art of motion-capture performances and not having every character with the dullest pair of eyes?!? Step up your game, Hollywood, the French are finally picking-up for a change.
Even though Cotillard definitely steals the show in this one, Matthias Schoenaerts doesn’t do such a bad-job for himself, neither, but definitely comes-off like the weakest-link out of the two, mainly because his character is so lame and unlikable. I get that there are people out-there in the world who shouldn’t be parents, shouldn’t have responsibilities, and shouldn’t be trusted as a nice, knowing human-being, but this guy is just downright idiotic. Throughout the whole 2 hours (and it’s a pretty long 2 hours, may I add), the guy never seems to do anything right or nice for anybody around him, except for maybe giving Cotillard the D, whenever she wants it and whenever he feels like it giving it to her. And seriously, that’s debatable because there even comes a point where he just seems to be playing with her heart and emotions, and how dare ye do that to one Marion Cotillard?!?
He’s not a nice guy, he definitely stands up-there pretty high in the ballot for “Worst Daddy Ever”, he takes happiness in beating the shit out of guys, he doesn’t like doggies (what is wrong with this man?!?), he definitely has an anger problem, and the only type of pleasure or good-deed he does for people to make them feel better about themselves, is when he’s banging chicks and I think that’s just about it. I feel bad for Schoenaerts because underneath this dry and distasteful character, there lies a pretty solid performance that’s more fully-realized than the arch for this guy, but it never comes-out and just feels more like the type of movie that shows-off the gal for being the stronger and smarter-one of the two, not the muscle-bound freakazoid known as the male species.
The relationship between the two that begins, is what really kept me watching the flick but whenever the focused away from it, or got off-track and decided to throw in a bunch of manipulative moments where it would toy with both character’s emotions and decisions, then the flick began to lose me and my interest. Their relationship seems to be strictly about sex and making the other person happy, with little to no repercussions involved whatsoever. It’s a nice change-of-pace to see that in a flick and to see that handled so seriously, because as we all know, Hollywood hasn’t been able to do that for the longest-time (*cough* Friends With Benefits and No Strings Attached *cough*) but it all starts to fizzle-out and become exactly the type of item Hollywood loves to shove down our throats. The relationship between these two works because it feels believable and understandable no matter how fucked up their lives may be, but by the end, it all becomes conventional, obvious, and a tad dull and starts to feel like the French-version of a Nicholas Sparks novel that just so happens to have Killer Whales, sex, nudity, violence, and lots of skinny-dipping. Sounds like the type of book I want to read before a screening, not something I want to see, watch, and wait-around for for over 2 hours, waiting for it to get to the point.
Consensus: Cotillard’s performance and what she does with an ultra-complex character is really why you should see Rust & Bone, but if you decide to go and see it for more, you may or not be disappointed by the lack of any, actual emotional-attachment this flick may have to you and your life, or the fact that the flick starts off so damn promising, only to fade into what we should expect from Hollywood’s sappy, Nicholas Sparks-adaptations. Except this time, it’s got subtitles. Yay! Not only is there sappiness involved, but reading as well!
Also, while you’re at it, check out a podcast I did with a couple of fellow bloggers of mine where we talk straight-up movie ish, especially in terms that it’s Christmas time! Yay! Go on over to http://asyouwatch.wordpress.com/2012/12/21/episode-xvii-sunshine-2007/ and let me know what you think! Thanks!