RUST & BONE: light, sound, words

Rust and Bone made many critics top 10 list for 2012. I’ve just watched the trailer, but avoided reading a synopsis, so this post relies on the a/v evidence of the trailer for its analysis. I did look up the gorgeous music cue, “My Tears Are Becoming an Ocean” by M83, which offers a wall-to-wall soundscape.

The trailer does not provide much in the way of story details in its selection of filmed excerpts. Marion Cotillard is a trainer of Killer Whales who loses the use of her legs. Her romantic partner, Matthias Schoenaerts, is a bare-knuckles fighter, but whether he’s an amateur or professional is unspecified.

The copy tells us that “from the acclaimed director of A Prophet,” Jacques Audiard,
“comes a love story
that begins
when two worlds
fall apart.”

A genre of romantic drama is specified, featuring the talents of Oscar winning actor Cotillard and Schoenaerts, who Google tells me is a Belgian actor of some distinction. He is shown brawling, running on ice, banging on the ice as if to break through, carrying his son on his shoulders while hitchhiking in urban traffic and embracing the boy while swimming in the ocean. Cotillard’s relationship to Schoenaerts fighting is unspecified, but he has a child who appears not to be their offspring. Ms. Cotillard is not apparent in such scenes, although there are various shots of them driving together, absent the boy.

The story presentation appears to be a-chronological, since we see Cotillard active and working with killer whales both before and after the crippling incident.

So, in a trailer that rather willfully refuses to explain, other than in the most general terms of “worlds falling apart,” why is the trailer so affecting?

Partly its the music cue, which with its oceanic hiss and roar and unintelligibly important lyrics (rather like Cocteau Twins) conveys something elemental and mysterious; partly it’s the sun dappled, over-exposed images of Cotillard and Schoenarts in various states of intimacy, exaltation, extremity, and ease: one longs to understand how they coexist within the film.

The other element of the trailer presentation that appeals to its target audience (and remember, for a foreign language film with subtitles, this is already a self-selected group) is the critical reception, whether of the performance by Cotillard and Schoenarts, the festival laurels from Cannes or the superlative one-word reviews of the film.

While the copy run is brief and general, the performance reviews are effusive:
“Marion knocks it out of the park.” “Marion Cotillard in a raw & beautiful performance.” “Matthias Schoenarts is just astounding.” And the film reviews are extensive: “An exhilarating experience…”
“Edgy, fearlessly emotional romance.”
“Euphoric and speelbinding.”
“A towering picture”

After the title reveal, subsequent to a final shot of Marion and Matthias walking toward the camera, the frame filled with sunlight from behind them, 6 one word reviews, with attribution, three per card, appear in succession:

“Stunning” – New York Magazine
“Genius”- Entertainment Weekly
“A Contender” – Time Magazine
“Tremendous” – Onion
“Beautiful” – Hollywood Reporter
“Astonishing” – Movieline

The sources range across the spectrum of mainstream media, including online and print, celebrity journalism, urban and mainstream weekly magazines, a trade publication and a comedic one. Odds are that as a foreign film viewer, you’ll be a reader of at least one of these organs of the press.

As a trailer afficionado who sees all too many trailers that tell me just what to expect from the feature, this lovely, oblique trailer (literally non-transparent given the moments of oversaturation and sunspots when the sun is behind the actors) makes me curious, despite the all-too-cinematic roles of killer-whale-trainer and bare-knuckles fighter.

Once I’m done publishing the post, I’m going to read the synopsis and check the local listings.

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movietrailers101 by Fred Greene is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

About Frederick Greene

Entertainment Copywriter & Visiting Assistant Professor, UCLA Dept. of Theater, Film & Television. I teach a graduate seminar in new movie marketing, which focuses on the history, contemporary practice and likely future of a/v advertising for motion picture entertainment.
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