This story of love against all odds is one tailor-made for melodrama, yet it’s the restraint of Jacques Audiard’s Rust and Bone that lends it its emotional heft.
The film follows Stephanie, a killer whale trainer and Ali, an unemployed single father, whose relationship blossoms following a horrifying tragedy – a relationship that could’ve been sentimental as hell in the hands of a lesser director, but Audiard handles it with great respect – for both audience and character.
In fact, Rust and Bone serves as a masterclass in how to handle melodrama. Never does the extreme emotion overcome the base of the story – the blossoming romance between the two leads – leaving it grounded in some sort of reality at all times.
It’s not perfect, though, as some minor script issues ensure it doesn’t all hold together at the end, but when Rust and Bone works it really works. It’s unashamedly melodramatic, but with such depth of character at its heart this heightened emotion is never cheesy or sentimental. It just, well, works.
It also marks the long overdue entrance of Katy Perry into the “credible cultural zeitgeist”, which is something to celebrate, right? Guys?
- Matt Mansfield