It’s Friday night, you’re tired from a long week and your girl want’s to come over, just chill and watch a movie. As far as these typical date night movies go you have to suffer through two hours of a romantic comedy like This Means War which is basically the same plot as every other romantic comedy. Reese Witherspoon stars as 30 something average looking chick who is in a love triangle with two guys who are younger and obviously out of her league in real life (not like I’ve actually seen the movie or anything). MOVING ON!
A Few weeks ago I had the pleasure of seeing Rust and Bone from director Jacques Audiard who’s only other movie I watched, A Prophet blew my mind away. Starring Matthias Schoenaerts from last year’s Meat Head Movie of The Year Winner Bullhead and Marion Cotillard who’s real life hotness cannot be denied. This is a movie that gets under your skin and stays with you long after it’s over like a fever dream. Before we get started I should mention this movie has subtitles for those of you clowns that can’t stand reading and watching a movie at the same time.
What drew me to this movie was Matthias Schoenaerts. After his performance in Bullhead , I was interested to see how he would transition to what on the surface looked like a straightforward love story. I quickly learned that there was nothing straightforward about this movie. Matthias stars as a single father named Ali who is barely getting by and nearly homeless raising his five year old son by himself. The movie starts with the journey the two take to go stay with Ali’s sister and husband. Ali finds work being a bouncer and we learn that before that point he was an amateur boxer. This is how he ends up meeting Marion Cotillard’s Stephanie, there a spark of interest but nothing more. Stephanie turns out to be an orca (killer whales) trainer at a local marine park. She’s beautiful and likes the attention she gets from men and the power her beauty gives her over them.
One day during one of her shows at the marine park there is an accident and Stephanie ends up losing both of her legs. During this time Ali continues working out and picks up another job work security at night. Legless, depressed and alone, Stephanie calls up Ali and they soon meet up to just hangout. Right off the back it doesn’t bother him at all that Stephanie has no legs. As crazy as everything is already Ali ends up being pulled into the underground world of bare knuckle fighting/ MMA where fights are set up by random gypsy type people and anything goes. Stephanie accompanies him to a couple of fights. The beautiful amputee and the meat head brawler. Stephanie knows that because of his looks and muscle bound physique Ali doesn’t have any trouble having meaningless sexual relationship with many women. They both decide to enter into a friends with benefits relationship that further complicates things. Through random events she comes to manage him during his fights and as she herself get’s pulled into scene of the underground fight scene. Ali struggles to make money for his son and juggle the relationship with Stephanie as twists you never see coming breaks the view down slowly.
On the surface there’s a lot elements going on in this movie but all the complications make it that much more real to life. With this and Bullhead, Schoenaerts is proving to be the best actor since Brando in as Stanley in a Streetcar Named Desire at playing the masculine sensitive meathead with a good heart. His ability to convey the raw emotions of a rage filled brawler to remorse within seconds is hypnotic. His movements are minimal yet animalistic and straight to the point. This is one of the few actors who’ve already mastered the art of acting with his eyes. Cotillard is excellent as usual and if you’re wondering how good she is, even with no legs most of would still beat. Finally director Jacques Audiard does it again with a masterpiece that pushes the cinematic envelope. He has a way of painting with the film, there are moments of silence during the certain scenes of violence that seem to bring the point home. On the surface this seemed like a difficult concept for a movie, how do you find love between an attractive woman who’s lost it all and violent fighter trying to keep it all together. But then again when you take a step back it’s a perfect metaphor for everyday life, people coming together for whatever reason just to make it through this world we live in.
Next time you have a girl come over wanting to watch one of those unrealistic happy go lucky romantic comedies, blow her mind out with this one. If she’s not crying by the end she has no soul.