Rust and Bone (Jacques Audiard, 2012)

What's it about? Stéphanie (Marion Cotillard) is a killer whale trainer at a marine park in the south of France. Alain (Matthias Schoenaerts) is an unemployed father who has arrived in the area with his son, looking for work. The two strike up an unlikely friendship after a terrible accident leaves her in a wheelchair.

Is it any good? Two superb performances from Cotillard and Schoenaerts are the main thing to recommend this. Cotillard radiates sensuality as the self-assured young woman who finds herself drawn toward the physicality of the brutish Alain, whose uncomplicated, straight-talking attitude helps her comes to terms with her new disabilitySchoenaerts is also great as the macho, selfish character whose thuggish behaviour gradually alters as he becomes subtly affected by his relationship with Stéphanie. As their unlikely relationship blossoms, Audiard is careful to avoid having them fall foul of romantic cliches. There are walks on the beach, coffees on the balcony and sex scenes, alright, but these are infused with a matter-of-fact realism to prevent any soppy, artificial emotion creeping in. However, for all that, the story shuffles along rather episodically and I wasn't particularly engaged throughout, my mind wandering to wonder how exactly the understated, but hugely impressive, CGI was done. Despite the performances, it all felt a little toothless (aptly enough, given the meaning of the title). But, fans of nudity can rejoice, because Cotillard reveals an impressive rack and there's a Free Willy in there too.

Anything else I should know? Some spoilers revealed in this brief featurette about that impressive use of CGI, whilst you can read an interview with the director here. I've reviewed his previous film, the very good A Prophet, here.

What does the Fonz think? Doesn't land a knockout blow.

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