By Anna Bielak | May 17, 2012
Director: Jacques Audiard
Writers: Jacques Audiard (screenplay), Thomas Bidegain (screenplay), Craig Davidson (story)
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts, Armand Verdure, Celine Salette, Corinne Masiero, Bouli Lanners, Jean-Michel Correia
There is something about Jacques Audiard’s latest film, Rust & Bone (which screened in competition at Cannes 2012), that calls upon my bad memories of Oskar Röhler’s adaptation of Michel Houellebecq’s novel Elementary Particles. Though Craig Davidson’s short stories belong to the prehistory of Audiard’s project, too many of the source elements were lost in translation. Like Röhler, Audiard focuses on the main, most dramatic events of his two characters; the narration expands upon two accidents, and the story in between is filled with naturalistic episodes that seem deprived of authentic psychology. Having in mind (the great!) A Prophet, I was expecting more than an assemblage of tragic attractions that should have been shocking enough to keep the ball rolling.
Early on, I was a bit enchanted with the beautiful sadness that emanates from the two parallel stories of Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) and Stephanie (Marion Cotillard). I wanted to keep an eye on the homeless father and his five-year-old son who try to find shelter under the roof of a man’s poor sister; while I found the portrait of a woman who trains killer whales during the day and looks for dangerous fun at night interesting. Those two characters might develop an interesting relationship, which I would like to follow. Yet, my interest in their story broke down; nothing arose between me and them, apart from fatigue. Audiard uses too many clichés to develop his film. He tries to tell a story about people who find themselves in conditions of which they do not approve; instead of interesting me in their stories, he makes me feel uncomfortably bored with their attempts to make changes.
Ali needs to take care of his son; he has never really done that before. Stephanie is forced to change her perspective on life after an accident at the swimming pool where she loses her legs. Audiard wants to portray the process of changes, but he seems to forget how long it might last. Everything in his movie is as simple as sex between his two protagonists. It just happens one afternoon. It happens like an accident — suddenly and without reasonable intentions. Watching Rust & Bone, we are forced to jump from one feeling to another, in exactly the same way as Röhler’s Elementary Particles.
Rust & Bone lacks essence. The main role in the story belongs to bodies, not people. The corpse is only a figure — and I need something more to delve into. Audiard’s film does not influence me; but it finally did move my body [from my seat] when the end credits appeared on screen, and I felt like I could eventually leave the screening hall.