RUST AND BONE is a rather depressing French movie that’s barely saved by a moving last minute ending of repentance, regret, redemption, and commitment. Ultimately, it’s a story about a selfish, irresponsible young boxer in France who finally grows to maturity after several huge mistakes. The last mistake is nearly fatal, and it’s that confrontation with death that appears to turn the tide.
The story opens with Ali traveling with his 5-year-old son, a son he barely knows. They are traveling to stay with Ali’s sister in the south of France. The movie suggests that Ali’s estranged wife has been put into prison for dealing drugs. Or, that she is a user herself and can no longer care for their son.
Ali gets a job as a bouncer in a nightclub. During a brawl, he comes to the aid of a young woman named Stephanie. Stephanie is beautiful and works as one of the killer whale trainers at Marineland. Ali leaves her his phone number, even though Stephanie seems unattainable.
One day, a performance at Marineland ends in tragedy, and Stephanie’s legs are amputated. When she recovers, she calls Ali, and the two begin a torrid affair that includes visits to the beach. The affair gives Stephanie a new lease on life. Ali isn’t interested in taking their relationship any further, but he likes being with her. So, he starts taking her to the illegal street fights he performs to earn extra money. Since Stephanie can’t capture Ali’s heart, she starts helping Ali manage the bets at his matches. Her management gets stronger when she gets two new steel prosthetic limbs for her legs. Despite this, Ali occasionally picks up other women for a one-night stand.
Eventually, Ali’s immaturity and irresponsibility, not to mention his fear of commitment, threaten his relationship with Stephanie as well as his sister’s job and his son’s life. Will he ever see the light?
RUST AND BONE is more of a character study than a traditional three-act drama. Thus, it relies on the performances of its male and female leads. In that respect, both Oscar winning French actress Marion Cotillard (LA VIE IN ROSE, INCEPTION and THE DARK KNIGHT RISES) and rising star Matthias Schoenaerts from Belgium do an excellent job. Though RUST AND BONE is shot in French, both actors speak excellent English.
Ultimately, the movie’s drama hinges on whether its male protagonist can mature and become a true lover to the girl and a true father to his son. Until that drama resolves itself, the movie’s scenes play out in an episodic, though somewhat engrossing, way. Thus, RUST AND BONE is good, but it won’t set the cinematic world on fire.
RUST AND BONE is set in a gritty Post-Christian European world. There’s no religious foundation to what little morality exists in the story. In such a world, the only touchstones for people are romance, use of stimulants, making money, career and family. Without a personal commitment to God through Jesus Christ, these touchstones ultimately become meaningless. Since that would be depressing indeed, the filmmakers end with making romantic love and family the ultimate values that can bring any real meaning or satisfaction to life. God has created these things, so they are indeed valuable. However, they can’t reach their highest potential if you don’t let Jesus into your life. That said, Jesus doesn’t promise a life without trials or tribulations, but he always offers His comfort, hope, peace, strength, wisdom, and love. The good news is that all of these things are available in God’s Word, the Bible and in many, if not most, of your local Christian churches, which are the physical manifestations of the Body of Christ. Too bad the actors and filmmakers behind RUST AND BONE don’t acknowledge this spiritual foundation to life and the human condition.
Finally, because its worldview is divorced from God and His Word, RUST AND BONE is one of those movies with plenty of strong foul language, pagan violence, graphic sex scenes, and explicit nudity. The movie seems to see these things as just part of life. So, its portrayal of them is gritty and frank though not completely pornographic or intentionally Anti-Christian or evil.
(PaPaPa, RoRo, H, B, LLL, VV, SSS, NN, AA, DD, MM) Post-Christian mixed pagan worldview seems very strong, with Romantic, humanist and light moral elements; about 32 obscenities (including some “f” words) and one GD; strong fight violence in several illegal street matches featuring some kickboxing plus killer whale accident at Marineland in Southern France causes woman’s legs to be amputated, shots of healed amputated legs, man bloodies his hand beating it against the ice; four or five scenes of depicted fornication with kissing; full male nudity in one shot as man walks around in bedroom and bathroom area and shots of upper female nudity, rear female nudity, upper male nudity, and rear male nudity; alcohol use and some drunkenness; smoking and vague reference to offscreen character and drugs; and, male protagonist is often selfish and irresponsible, but he matures, and there’s gambling on illegal street fights featuring some kickboxing, but the fights are mostly just an organized brawl.
RUST AND BONE is a French movie about a selfish, irresponsible young boxer. The movie opens with Ali traveling alone with his 5-year-old son, whom he barely knows. They end up staying with Ali’s sister in Southern France. Ali gets a job as a nightclub bouncer. During a brawl, he comes to the aid of Stephanie, a beautiful killer whale trainer at Marineland. Ali leaves her his phone number. One day, a Marineland performance ends in tragedy. Stephanie’s legs are amputated. When she recovers, she calls Ali, and the two begin a torrid affair that includes visits to the beach. Eventually, Ali’s immaturity and irresponsibility threaten his relationship with Stephanie as well as his sister’s job and his son’s life.
RUST AND BONE is more of a character study than a traditional three-act drama. The performances by the two leads, including Oscar winning actress Marion Cotillard, are excellent. However, the story is episodic. Despite some morally uplifting moments at the end, the movie takes place in a Post-Christian pagan world. Consequently, RUST AND BONE contains excessive foul language, lewd content and explicit nudity.