There seems to be a surplus of great French movies these days, and guess what… I have one more!
Rust and Bone, or its French title, De Rouille et d’os, is about an unlikely couple who fall in love after Ali, a Belgian fighter (Matthais Schoenaerts) moves himself and his son in with his sister. Along the way, he meets Stephanie (Marion Coutillard), a Killer Whale trainer, and the two fall in love. The plot takes a tear-jerking turn after a tragic accident causes Stephanie to lose both of her legs, which in turn only enhances the amour the two have for each other.
Sounds like a good movie to me and audiences appear to have the same reaction:
Hold up! What’s this?
Boycott? How can a film that will be nominated for an Oscar be boycotted?
It’s a little confusing to me why someone would boycott a fictional movie, but doing some good ol’ fashioned research led me right to the heart of the problem. It appears that animal rights organizations such as Animal Defenders International (ADI) believe that filming confined Killer Whales translates to condoning their captivity as stated by ADI’s chief executive, Jan Creamer:
We are dismayed that the director, Jacques Audiard, gave his approval to the incarceration of orcas by using performing animals in the film.
Valid point, Ms. Creamer, but does a boycott of this film accomplish some goal? For me, when I think of the word “boycott” juxtaposed with the word “film,” it brings back memories of my high school days when firebrand Christians protested The Da Vinci Code. Boycotts like these don’t deter me from seeing the film. Whether or not I choose to investigate more about the issues surrounding film controversies, the snubbing of a it makes me want to see the movie all the more.
But just to clear my conscience (I am an animal lover, by the way) I chose to dive deeper into my search. According to SeaWorld, hunting and harassing Killer Whales is illegal under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). Under this Act I found the following section to be particularly interesting:
The MMPA does allow for certain exceptions: native subsistence hunting; taking marine mammals for research, education, and public display; and taking restricted numbers of marine mammals incidentally in the course of fishing operations.
Okay, I understand native subsistence hunting, research, education, but the fourth criterion, “public display,” is a little unsettling to me. I can understand how captive marine mammals for the sole purposes of human entertainment would cause Jan Creamer and other animal rights activists to see red. Even Marion Coutillard expressed a discomfort with interacting with the detained dolphins:
I’ve always had a repulsion going in a place where animals are in captivity.
Like I said, the whole situation makes me a bit uncomfortable, which makes the whole boycotting issue a bit difficult. Here are some other opinions from an article in The Telegraph:
These people bring up some reasonable points, but does this film still have a glimmer of hope left in it? Yes. Yes it does.
Rust and Bone seemed to resonate with at least one individual on a profound level. Stuart Holt, from the Limbless Association, was interviewed by The Guardian about how well Coutillard embodied an individual who has lost a limb. As an amputee, he believes the film and Coutillard did an excellent job depicting the emotional turmoil that follows an amputation.
Based entirely off of the receptions of its audiences, there seems to be a lot of hope in this film. It has only been available for American viewership since the 2nd of November, but I can guarantee that I will see it soon. I know, perhaps I am a terrible person for wanting to watch a movie with captive Killer Whales, but Stuart Holt’s personal anecdote makes up for at least some of my folly. Oh, as well as the constant high remarks coming in from Twitter. Check out what people are saying when you search “Rust and Bone” on Twitter. You’ll probably want to see it too.