Marion Cotillard, who won an Oscar playing Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, is so possessed of talent, allure and exquisite grace that you follow her anywhere. In Rust and Bone, Cotillard plays Stéphanie, who trains orcas at an aquarium on the French Riviera. Stéphanie enjoys a healthy sex life, casually picking up burly boxer Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) at a local club.
Everything changes when Stéphanie loses her legs in a work accident, shown in detail later in the movie. Her sense of self is shattered. It’s Ali, struggling to raise his five-year-old son, who helps restore her sexual identity and sense of purpose. It doesn’t come easy. Writer-director Jacques Audiard (A Prophet) probes the psyches of two people in crisis His hypnotic film means to shake you, and does. Schoenaerts reveals unexpected layers in Ali. And Cotillard delivers a tour de force of unleashed emotions. She’s astonishing.