THE latest from A Prophet director Jacques Audiard sees him once again bringing the full force of his filmmaking abilities to bear on a story that feels bracingly authentic yet unashamedly cinematic.
RUST AND BONE
Marion Cotillard does some of her finest work as a marine park employee whose life is devastated by an out-of-the-blue tragedy. Matthias Schoenaerts co-stars as the bare-knuckle brawler who helps get her back on her feet. On paper it’s the stuff of overblown melodrama, but Audiard embraces this, rooting the characters in reality, then letting them respond in credible ways to freak events that are so extreme, he leaves you with little choice but to go with the emotional flow of the story. It’s a neat trick. The innate movie-ness of the premise makes its vivid portraits of human nature resonate in memorable ways while the sheer strangeness of Cotillard and Shoenaerts’ odd-couple relationship helps the film stand out even more in a sea of derivative art house misery fests.
As the writer of Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Empire Strikes Back, Lawrence Kasdan clearly knows how to construct an exciting movie. As the director of The Big Chill, he’s also no slouch when it comes to making character-driven ensemble dramas that strike a generational chord. Too bad, then, that his talents seem to have deserted him so thoroughly for this semi-autobiographical shaggy dog story about a somewhat fractious family who are brought closer together when their pooch goes missing in the wilderness. Leading an astonishing blue-chip cast – including Sam Shepard, Dianne Wiest, Richard Jenkins and Elisabeth Moss – Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline are wasted as the squabbling central couple (he’s a workaholic surgeon, she’s an over-sensitive housewife) who are “out of alignment” now that their children have left the nest. The film’s biggest problem, though, is that when their dog, Freeway (so called because that’s where they found him), takes off, it barely gives him a second thought. Instead it focuses on its dull, predictable human characters working through their dull, predictable problems in dull, predictable ways. In other words, it’s a dog film with barely any dog in it, populated by people who don’t appear to have any understanding of what it means to be a dog owner.
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