De Rouille Et D’Os (Rust and Bone) – **

Posted: May 18, 2012 in 2012, Belgium, Disease of the week, Drama, France, Romance, XX

It doesn’t often happen that the Flemish media create a hype around a French movie. But as it stars one of our most promising actors, De Rouille Et D’Os gets much more attention than it would have gotten with an unknown French actor in the lead. Matthias Schoenaerts (who’s already an established actor in Flanders thanks to movies like Loft and tv series like De Smaak Van De Keyzer) is ready for an international career after he starred in the Oscar nominated Bullshead and now gets a lot of buzz for his performance in the new movie of Cannes winner Jacques Audiard (whose last three movies I loved). I jumped on the wave and went to see it tonight, but wasn’t all that impressed.

Schoenaerts delivers, but isn’t extraordinary. Marion Cotillard is – as always – superb. The soundtrack is surprisingly exciting. There are some scenes that are visually quite clever and unique. But, I just didn’t feel the story. A woman gets her legs amputated after an accident in a theme park with a killer whale. A man moves to the south of France with his little kid and makes money being a security guard and a street fighter. They both meet and hang out. Then have sex. Then sort of fall in love. Until something makes the guy leave again. Sounds boring, doesn’t it? Well, it is. I kind of liked the character of Stephanie, who comes to terms with being disabled and somehow embraces the joy this man brings in her new life. But I couldn’t figure out the character of Ali, who’s portrayed in so many different ways that I stopped caring about him at the end. His physique will remind people of the ‘bull’ he played in his breakthrough movie, but this time he’s another animal. I just couldn’t figure out if he was a teddy bear or a grizzly;  a circus or a polar bear. He takes good care of his handicapped friend, but he hits his son. He beats up other guys for money, but goes out sledge-riding in the snow with his kid. Sure, people can be complex. But for some reason I couldn’t empathize with this guy at all. Is that the mistake of Audiard? Or Schoenaerts? Probably not. In the end, well-made movies just might not work for everybody. And this one didn’t for me.

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