Complete A-Z list

Rust and Bone


Stars: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schönaerts, Céline Sallette, Armand Verdure, Corinne Masiero, Yannick Choirat

Director: Jacques Audiard

Winner of the Best Film award at this year's London Film Festival, this is a story that tends to keeps its audience at arm's length, much as its main protagonist, Ali, does with life in general, until, in a heartrending and horrifying scene toward the end, life reaches out and grabs him by the throat.

Even then, his conversion to love and family seems a trifle arbitrary and uneasy.

But I digress: despite the talent and formidable physique of Schönaerts in this role, the film is really a vehicle for the remarkable, Oscar-winning Cotillard, as Steph, an orca (killer whale) trainer who loses both legs below the knee when one of the creatures goes berserk at the aquarium.

These two disparate lives converge first when she gets into an affray at the nightclub where he's a bouncer; he drives her home, alienating her with unsettling and unnecessarily blunt questions that reveal his low IQ, and they part.

After he sees her accident on TV, Ali gets back in touch, takes her to the beach and revives her interest in life. At the end of the day, however, he regards her as just as much a sex object as his (very) casual if vigorous one-night stands; she's not sure that everything's still 'in working order' but finds it is.

Using people as he pleases, Ali foists his five-year-old son (Choirat) on his sister and takes a job in supermarket security, earning money on the side at bareknuckle boxing fights, which he usually wins. Eventually, Steph is roped in as his sort-of manager.

Cotillard's prosthetic limbs are an amazing achievement, but the film itself drives an unsteady road between fantasising and facing reality. Do we really want to believe these contrasting people have a future together? I'm not too sure.

David Quinlan

France 2012. UK Distributor: StudioCanal. Technicolor.
120 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 3, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 30 Oct 2012