|Mattais Schoenaerts and Marion Cotillard portray damaged lovers in 'Rust and Bone'|
"Rust and Bone" is a love story that is wrapped in so much pain and anger that it's unnerving. This isn't an abusive relationship in a sense, but one where the two lovers are both physically rundown and tired. Not tired of each other, just tired.
Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts play Stéphanie and Ali, two quiet people with emotional baggage and an emotional anchor tied to them (Stéphanie with her abusive boyfriend, and Ali with his son, Sam). After moving in with his sister, Ali is trying to get his life together to make a living for he and his son. He meets Stéphanie after a fight leaves her bloody and roughed up, but nothing too serious.
The next time they talk they're both changed people. Stéphanie loses her legs after a killer whale she trains attacks her, and Ali is starting a new job, with boxing looming ever closer as a career choice. As a comforting gesture he takes her for a dip in the water, in what was probably the first time she was in the water since her accident. It's a pretty quiet scene, but the emotional ties they develop for each other are being to form.
Eventually, Ali starts to get more involved with back alley boxing, making thousands of dollars while getting beat around and losing teeth. He might be getting the money he so desperately needs, but he begins to become an even worse father to his son, and inconsiderate of the love Stéphanie has for him.
Ali just isn't the type of man to love, he doesn't seem to know how. Neglectful to his sister, son and Stéphanie, the only thing we know that Ali is good at is sex and violence. He doesn't like to be bothered by much, but if the chance to have sex with a girl at a gym or beat someone senseless comes around, he'll do it. By the end he realizes that it just takes one accident to know how great you have it until it's gone.
Given the right person he does seem sort of caring. From carrying Stéphanie to the sea, to their first sexual encounter, Ali has a miniscule soft spot that comes out unexpectedly. He doesn't relish in it, barely noticing when he is caring, but it's the soft, serene hand that Stéphanie really wants. She doesn't seem to want a lover, but someone who is willing to have a strong emotional connection with her. Presuming her boyfriend left after her accident, Ali was the only one to be comforting to her since then. He's the only man she seems to know.
I liked this movie. I didn't love it, but I liked it enough. There's something about European movies that they can focus on two lovers and not make it boring or irrational. For two hours we witness this "couple" grow a great love for each. Cumbersome at the start and emotionally charged at the end, we observe the stages of love and the emotional, and sometimes physical, impact it haves on all of us.
I obviously can not reveal the ending to you, but it's a sucker punch to the gut that makes you wish some people were more understanding of the things around them. Don't take a true love for granted.