RUST AND BONE directed by Jacques Audiard, written by Audiard and Thomas Bidegain from the story by Craig Davidson, with Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts. A Mongrel Media release. 120 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (December 21). For venues and times, see listing. Read the Interview with actress Marion Cotillard. Rating: NNNNN
Director Jacques Audiard follows up masterful prison drama A Prophet with another muscular piece of work, this time a romance.
A de-glammed Marion Cotillard stars as Stéphanie, a French Riviera aquatic show orca trainer who loses her legs in an accident on the job. She embarks on a beautifully awkward relationship with Ali (Bullhead's Matthias Schoenaerts), a blunt instrument of a man.
Despite the Côte d'Azur setting and Katy Perry on the soundtrack, Audiard's elegant film has a rough-around-the-edges aesthetic, as if he's digging for dirt beneath attractive surfaces.
Some will dismiss the film because of its hoary contrivances, particularly during the gut-wrenching climax, but they're not giving the brilliant director his due. Audiard's use of genre and clichés is part of a greater argument about moral redemption and deceptive appearances, where happy endings are only skin deep.
France entered The Intouchables as its entry in the foreign-language category, but don't count out Marion Cotillard to score a best actress nod. Sure, she's got an Oscar on her mantle already, but the Academy loves actors playing characters with disabilities.