Rust and Bone has got to go down as one of my biggest disappointments of the year. For all it’s beautiful uses of light in some splendid looking outdoor scenes, I found the chemistry between the killer whale trainer Stephanie (Marion Cotillard) and the handsome rogue Ali (Matthias Scoenaerts) almost vacant. It feels far longer than it should, feeling quintessentially French and unsatisfyingly sentimental. Cotillard never gets to dig into the psychological ramifications of her character losing her legs and the superficial facts of her disability seems like the sole reason for the blossoming romance. At least it’s beautifully shot. ★ ★
The Kid With A Bike is a wonderful picture directed by Belgian brothers Jean-Paul and Luc Dardenne which feels like something that might have come from Shane Meadows (I got a real feel of the delightful Somers Town). It’s about a neglected 12 year old boy called Cyril, placed into a foster home and on a search for his bike and vanished father. It ends up being far more gritty than bittersweet and Cécile de France is sublime as a woman who offers Cyril some guardianship. She wonderfully expresses why her character decides to forge this relationship with the boy without spelling out those reasons exactly, which is just one of many ways this film succeeds in feeling both delicate and a little rough. ★ ★ ★ ★
Finally, Magic Mike offered a genuinely joyous surprise. I’m not a big Steven Soderbergh fan and found his two most recent efforts immeasurably sterile (Haywire and Contagion) but the energy, tenderness and wit in his latest project is infectious. It’s a comedy drama about a group of male strippers, staring Channing Tatum, Alex Pettiyfer and Matthew McConnaghey, the latter clearly had an absolute blast as the leader of the gang. I doubt there’s an actor who had a more enjoyable on-screen 2012, with this wild and raunchy performance piled on top of the charismatic malevolence he showed in Killer Joe. It’s an absolutely perfect vehicle for Tatum who looks every inch the charismatic movie star, perhaps aided by the fact the film is based around his 8 month stint as a a stripper in Florida! Despite the film’s sense for playfulness it powerfully tackles some really deep emotions, striking a careful and profound balance. I might have bought into the Tatum/Pettyfer bromance slightly more than the romance and ultimately the film didn’t lead quite where I had hoped but then again with rumours of a sequel (and Tatum possibly directing), I’m eagerly, eagerly anticipating more time with these characters and a chance to catchup with some tantalising next steps in their lives. ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ (OK, it isn’t perfect, but for a film which made me feel so good at a difficult time I’m going to indulge).
Reviews by David Rank