Two broken people meet in "Rust and Bone," Jacques Audiard's brutally unromantic French romance.
Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) is a boxer who takes his young son away from Belgium to live in Antibes. There he meets and begins a romance with Stephanie (Marion Cotillard), a killer-whale trainer. The relationship has barely gotten off the ground when Stephanie suffers a horrific accident, losing both her legs above the knee to an orca. From here, the film focuses on Stephanie's determination not to be pitied, as she becomes Ali's manager in a network of back-alley bare-knuckled fistfights.
Audiard (who directed the astonishing prison drama "A Prophet") employs some impressive computer effects to re-create Stephanie's disability (think Lt. Dan in "Forrest Gump," but more realistic), while drawing fierce performances from Cotillard and Schoenaerts (who played the steroid-popping thug in last year's Oscar nominee "Bullhead"). The plot goes in some stunning and not always coherent directions, but the emotions are raw and striking.
'Rust and Bone'
Opens Friday, Feb. 1, at the Broadway Centre Cinema; rated R for strong sexual content, brief graphic nudity, some violence and language; in French with subtitles; 120 minutes.