04 January 2013

De rouille et d'os

We cheated and went to the version with the English subtitles (Rust and Bone), but we did think in retrospect that that might have been a good idea, as sometimes the dialogue in French was so low volume that the only saving grace was the subtitling.

Okay, not the only saving grace: this man is beautiful (and I am not the least bit shallow).

Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) is travelling with his young son to his sister's, where he tries to find work. He manages a number of different small jobs, some of which will have more consequences than he expects. He also falls into another of his past activities as a way of making money: fighting, but not in the ring, in the street. Chance (and a job as a nightclub bouncer) brings him into contact with Stéphanie (Marion Cotillard). Fleetingly at first, but she will come back. His son seems almost superfluous to his daily reality and seems to be largely cared for by his sister.

A horrific work accident for Stéphanie and her brave phone call out of the blue brings them back together. His brutishness – and I don't mean that as an insult, but as an assessment of his character as someone who doesn't live on his emotions or ride the roller coaster of sympathy and empathy – allows him to respond to her new reality matter-of-factly, jolting a little more life into her existence. (This will change, but I won't spoil it by telling you how.)

This is not an American movie. We see people who stumble through dull or hopeless lives, struggling to make ends meet and not emerging as wealthy winners at the end. Their moral codes do not follow some official line of "acceptable" for the good guys and "reprehensible" for the bad ones. The pace is often quite slow. But isn't that all a little more realistic when you're trying to tell a story about real life?

Oh, and just one message I would like to text to our hero: "Opé?"

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