Internet dating doesn’t appeal to some. It might be because they have political ambitions and it might come back to haunt them. It might be that their idea of happiness doesn’t involve an SSRT blissed out singleton with a soft-rock soundtrack. But anecdotal evidence mostly suggests it’s because they refuse to believe that the person they’re destined to end up with will find them through tick-box compatibility.
Rust and Bone is a love story, but not the sort that Type A princesses spend their formative years creating a vision board for. It’s about the kind of love that meanders unreliably and blooms unpredictably.
Director Jacques Audiard (A Prophet) coaxes intense yet physically intelligent performances from both Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose, Inception) and Matthias Schoenaerts (Bullhead). The Belgian, in particular, embraces Tony Soprano’s ideal of a male lead, a man who “wasn’t in touch with his feelings, he just did what he had to do.”
Audiard doesn’t make it easy for the audience – he trusts the two leads to flesh out a chronologically stuttered plot – whilst Cotillard and Schoenaerts’ characters don’t make it easy for each other. They are both self-destructive individualists: He acknowledges his lack of interest in romantic continuity, whilst she admits that she only enjoys a man’s attention until he commits to her.
Nonetheless, this is what sustains interest in the characters: it’s not a story about two people falling in love, it’s a story about two people adjusting to emotional levels that are new to each other.
This, in turn, makes the narrative much more affecting; not because the progress of their blossoming romance mirrors your own story; but because it highlights the unpredictable cause and effect that catalyses desire into something more permanent in an immature, but emotionally plausible way.
No dramatic gestures, no Disney safety net, no manufactured happily ever after – but a far more honest interpretation of what it means to be yourself, accept another for their potential incompatibilities and persevere in the hope that the sum is greater than the parts.
A wise adolescent once told me that she recognised that she’d reached romantic maturity for the first time when she no longer had to ‘have the conversation’ to know what her relationship status was – she just knew. At a time when so many love stories require their leads to be unnaturally explicit with their feelings to the audience, Rust and Bone is a terrific film about what it takes to fall in love and what falling in love takes from you.
Rust and Bone is out on DVD on the 25th of February 2013