Put in charge of his young son, Alain leaves Belgium for Antibes to live with his sister and her husband as a family. Alain’s bond with Stephanie, a killer whale trainer, grows deeper after Stephanie suffers a horrible accident.
Rarely does a film use its source material (in this case, two powerfully devastating short stories by Craig Davidson) and transform it into something new and equally formidable. That, however, is precisely what Jacques Audiard has done with “Rust and Bone,” a moving and raw look at how two rather ordinary people respond to extraordinary circumstances. Stephanie, a whale trainer played by the brilliant Marion Cotillard, must face life as a double amputee after a freak accident. Alain—played by the painfully handsome Matthias Schoenaerts—is a single father who must juggle his need to support his son while eking out a living for himself as a security guard. Stephanie’s and Alain’s lives intersect in unexpected but perfectly plausible ways, and their story generates equal parts despair and inspiration. This is an emotionally difficult but ultimately life- affirming film. And I sincerely hope that it helps catapult Schoenaerts to fame in the US. He embodies an atypical combination of ruggedness and heartfelt emotion rarely seen on film.