Rust and Bone (15)
Jacques Audiard has a reputation to maintain as arguably the most exciting film-maker in Europe. Rust and Bone will do the job. It may even win him fans unacquainted with his potent studies of underclass manners and mores, The Beat My Heart Skipped and A Prophet.
The story of an unlikely encounter, it stars Marion Cotillard as Steph, a show trainer of orca whales at a Cote d'Azur resort. When a tragic accident at the pool deprives her of both legs, she comes close to despair; instead, she contacts a bouncer named Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) who rescued her in a nightclub brawl some months previously.
Ali is a meathead, a one-night stander and a pretty awful father to his six-year-old son, whom he mostly leaves in his sister's care. But he's a great unpatronising friend to Steph, taking her out to swim and even offering his sexual services when she worries about her feeling (or lack of) "down there".
The romantic fuse is lit – can it go the distance? Audiard and his co-writer Thomas Bidegain are adapting from Craig Davidson's book of short stories, which may explain the slightly disjointed feel of the film.
Themes keep bumping up against one another – disability, fatherhood, fidelity, independence – while Ali's burgeoning career as a bareknuckle fighter jostles for space with a subplot about workers' exploitation.
At times melodrama is allowed to bully its way through, and there's a moment of pure Rocky schmaltz to make you wonder if Audiard isn't pitching to the box-office. Cotillard's superb performance keeps the film more or less honest – don't be surprised to see her tipped as favourite for a Best Actress Oscar.
Jeff Fletcher found fame in 1990s
'At times I thought he was me'film
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Film More romcom than S&M
Review: The Imitation Gamefilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Universities aren't working us hard enough, say undergraduates
- 2 Lego letter from the 1970s still offers a powerful message to parents 40 years later
- 3 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Strictly Come Dancing results: Steve Backshall and Ola Jordan sent home
Iggy Azalea responds to Eminem rape lyrics: 'I'm bored of old men threatening young women'
Why are the words 'mongol', 'mongoloid' and 'mongy' still bandied about as insults?
Tom DeLonge compares streaming music to killing elephants
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking leaked footage of Lana Del Rey rape video
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services