Rust and Bone

RUST AND BONE directed by Jacques Audiard,.

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.

Oscar buzz

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.

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