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Two Foreign Movies – Gritty Love Story Department

Rust & Bone (De rouille et d’os) (2012) – This French-Belgian film has been described as a gritty love story, which seems about right. Perhaps a bit predictable at times, it is a beautiful film with very honest acting, delving into the ugliness and brutality as well as the beauty and tenderness humans can share with each other. Overall, it feels hopeful, and I liked it a lot. Considering the material, it could have been overplayed into melodrama and mawkishness and terrible sentiment, and it avoids that. It is, for the most part, brutal and honest and bare where other stories might be overfull. Unless you have a deep fear of whales, or really hate subtitles, the remarkable aftermath is worth getting past the terrible accident for.

Addendum: As I was reminded by NPR’s Linda Holmes, Rust & Bone is also a movie that focuses on the physical, and especially on human bodies, and how we use them and live in them. Plus, the treatment of sex is wonderfully matter-of-fact.

Head On (Gegen die Wand) (2004) – Love stories do not come any grittier than Fatih Akin’s tale of a young Turkish woman and an older Turkish man living in Germany (in Hamburg), who meet in a mental institution where they are both under observation for attempting suicide. See Roger Ebert’s review for the details, but along with a very fast marriage proposal, you get blood, sex, drugs, and drinking, and two lives careening wildly together and apart. As a side note, it is refreshing to have sex be shown as just another thing humans do together, something that can be meaningful but can also be just a way to pass time together. As far as romances go, this one does away with the romantic part quite quickly, and takes a turn down darker roads. So, if you like your romance predictable, sentimental, and tied in a neat little bow at the end, find some other movie to watch. This one is for those who like to be kept off-balance, fascinated, and at least a little bit disturbed. The two leads especially make this one worth watching.

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