I went to a screening earlier this week of one of the most beautiful and brutal films I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch; ‘Rust & Bone’ is a compelling and complicated love story exploring issues of friendship, romance, sexuality, poverty and disability.
It is a tense film to sit through, there were moments so raw and visceral that I had to peek from behind my fingers, though couldn’t actually look away totally; I didn’t want to miss a single frame of the direction by Jacques Audiard. I don’t want to ruin the story by divulging too much of the plot but it’s no secret that killer whale trainer, Stephanie, (Marion Cotillard), is injured in an accident that leaves her with a physical disability. The film revolves around her budding friendship with the chivalrous troubled loner, Ali, (Matthias Schoenaerts) and their complex, contrasting lives.
When watching films featuring disability, especially wheelchair users, I’m always torn between wanting to watch the film as an audience member and wanting to assess the accuracy of the actor’s portrayal of the physicality and the emotions captured in the scriptwriting. (As an actress there is also always a part of me considering what I might have done differently in the same role).
In my opinion Marion Cotillard gives the best performance of a wheelchair user I’ve ever seen; admittedly I don’t know the reality of the specifics of Stephanie’s particular injury so can’t comment on how realistic the physical rehab was, but her portrayal of a wheelchair user is simply incredible. She struggles initially with the alien and cumbersome metal frame, finding it difficult to negotiate around rooms the way most of us do post injury; but later she develops the natural affinity so that using the chair becomes effortless and graceful. Cotillard moves the wheelchair so fluidly, it becomes an extension of her body, it is the chair that provides her the independence and freedom to escape her apartment and move on with her life. The scenes where she isn’t in the chair are pretty spectacular too, she isn’t scared by her altered body, she tentatively embraces it and looks to move forward in a different direction; it was great to finally see a disabled woman having a decent sex scene too!
On a very personal note there were moments captured on screen that resonated so deeply with me they triggered an instant freefall of tears down my face; emotions I’ve kept private and never shared with anyone else were depicted on screen so accurately yet so subtly. I’m in awe of the scriptwriting, the directing and of course Ms Cotillard….she rocks the chair well.
Rust & Bone is a truly amazing film and I urge you to go and see it.
Check out the official trailer here:
On general release from Friday 2 November 2012.