Star rating - 6/10
French director Jacques Audiard has already ably demonstrated his skill for looking at life's underbelly with an amazing lens in his previous films, The Beat That My Heart Skipped and the excellent A Prophet. This time out the subject matter is more sentimental, although still mining the rich seam of life's outsiders to the full.
In Rust and Bone he deals with the relationship between Stephanie (Marion Cotillard), a killer whale trainer, and Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts), a street fighter with a young son in tow who is very much down on his luck. These two not particularly likeable people are thrown together when he rescues her from trouble in a club in his temporary role as a bouncer. And he comes into his own as a friend and occasional lover when her feet are ripped off in a Jaws-like accident with a whale at her work.
The plot follows these two prickly and damaged people as they support each other as best they can through the many twists and turns of their complicated lives. And in truth there are a few too many plot turns for the impact of the film to last much after the credits, and the sentimentality is layered on a bit too thickly at times for my tastes. But this film has a good basic heart, and is worth watching also for the impressive performances from Cotillard and Schoenaerts, who have real chemistry as the spiky characters.