Ali arrives in Antibes, penniless and accompanied by his young son Sam, to live with his older sister Louise. He hasn't seen her for five years, and his relationship with the five year old seems almost as threadbare. It quickly transpires that he took Sam from his mother, who was using the boy to traffic drugs.
Hired as a bouncer, Ali encounters Stéphanie after a nightclub fight and, months later, they reconnect, developing a raw and ill-defined relationship that lurches from passion to indifference. I found it very difficult to empathise with the characters, but in particular Ali, who shows himself frequently to be thoughtless, violent and inconsiderate. Stéphanie is drawn to him despite – or perhaps because of – these character traits, and the total lack of schmaltz (to say the least!) in their interactions is one of the strong points of the film. Jacques Audiard has been described as someone who creates characters as people really are, as opposed to how we would like them to be, and that certainly applies here.
I expected to be moved by De rouille et d'os – the trailer (above) had my heart racing – so I can't really explain why I remained largely indifferent to it. It could just have been my mood on the night (very stressed). The performances (including the supporting actors) are almost faultless and the direction is as classy as you would expect from Audiard. There was something indefinable missing for me, but I can't say what it was.
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