Directed by Jacques Audiard.
Starring Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts, Bouli Lanners, Celine Sallette, Corinne Masiero and Alex Martin.
Put in charge of his young son, Ali leaves Belgium for Antibes to live with his sister and her husband as a family. Ali's bond with Stephanie, a killer whale trainer, grows deeper after Stephanie suffers a horrible accident.
Matthias Schoenaerts stars as Alain, a Belgian father who seeks refuge with his sister in France with his young son, still dreaming of becoming a pro boxer. Though riddled with anger and guilt, he tries to live a normal life to provide for his son.
While working as a security guard at a local nightclub, he meets Marion Cotillard's whale trainer Stephanie, who after breaking up a fight, helps her home to tend to her cuts and scraps.
Soon though their lives are intertwined again after Stephanie suffers heartbreak, losing both her legs in a freak accident while showcasing her whales. She turns to Alain for a friend, and the two are soon sharing ocean swims together.
Rust and Bone has had many critics falling for its charm: it's a quiet meditation of love and life, of two souls colliding, almost by accident, who end up having a profound effect on each other.
Their love on screen is overwhelming, and has more realism than any number of romantic comedies can ever muster. Director Jacques Audiard (A Prophet), who also co-writes, directs with great patience and warmth, and visually the film looks superb: It's a calm, measured film, allowing his characters and story to flourish.
What adds to their real affair are the film's leads, both of whom are magnificent. It's of huge surprise that more accolades, particularly that of the Oscar variety, were not bestowed upon them, or indeed the film.
Cotillard is as graceful and luminous as ever, proving herself yet again as one of the finest actresses of her generation. Even the added challenge of playing a paraplegic, Cotillard meets the challenge head-on for arguably her best performance yet. And Schoenaerts too is superb as Alain. It says a lot for his ability that he can make a borderline abusive father sympathetic. Difficult mix undoubtedly, but he pulls in off with wonderful aplomb.
That said, the film is rather a slow-burner, and for some this may be more of a nuisance than positive. It's melodramatic tone too, whilst integral, again may feel more of a hinderance, and may leave some with a sense of boredom. But for a film with such beauty, it's hard to be overly critical.
Superbly written, beautifully directed and performed exquisitely, Rust and Bone showcases some of best European talent around, as can rightly take its place as one of the films of the year.
The release also comes with a couple of decent documentaries about the making-of the film, some deleted scenes, and a enjoyable commentary track from Audiard and co-writer Thomas Bidegain.
Flickering Myth Rating: Film ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★ ★