I got up early, did a little work and made the 8:30 am screening of Jacques Audiard‘s Rust and Bone, a rooted, intriguing and obviously well made film..but no “masterpiece,” which is what one American visitor has called it. It’s about detachment, emotional and otherwise. And breaking through and growth and all the usual struggling-with-the-bad-stuff stuff. It’s fine and steady and laudable, but let’s not get carried away.

Critics come loaded to these screenings, looking for a good wave like surfers. Hungry to be carried aloft and feel that ecstasy. And when a film is somewhere between good and quite good (i.e., Rust and Bone), some go “oh my God, I’ve just caught some kind of Hawaiian wave of a lifetime!” Calm down. Get some perspective.

The best thing about “the Audiard” is Marion Cotillard‘s performance (a probable Palme d’Or Best Actress contender) as a woman who’s lost her legs. But the truly handicapped figure is Matthias Schoenfaert‘s Ali, a mild-mannered brute who puts a comme ci comme ca face on his “I’m okay, whatever, leave me alone, don’t touch” selfishness.

Yes, the brawny, Schwarzenegger-like Schoenfaert is playing another ox (a cousin of his deballed Bullhead character), and words fail to describe what a boring drag he can be to hang with at times. So there’s that to contend with. But Audiard is such a skilled and honest filmmaker that most of it comes out right, more or less.

I tweeted this about 90 minutes ago: “The story just meanders along, intriguingly and with metaphorical layers and whatnot, but the voltage meter is set to ‘medium’ throughout.” And then Mike D’Angelo tweeted that it’s “the story of a horribly disabled person, and also of a woman with no legs. Stealthy reverse schematism!” To which I replied, “Yes, Schoenaerts’ character is more disabled than Cotillard’s. Obviously. He’s the one who needs to come together. And…?”

Cotillard is so utterly readable in every scene, every moment…but without any apparent effort. Naturalistic acting at its very finest. There’s so much in her eyes and her mouth. I could just stare at her, endlessly.

There’s other sutff to type but I have a 2 pm screening of Sister to try and crash at a market screening. Later…