Rust and Bone, Jacques Audiard, 120 mins (15)
For a Good Time, Call..., Jamie Travis, 85 mins (18)

His gritty and intense tales have won Jacques Audiard a considerable following, but for all its drama, his latest film feels fey and insubstantial

Jacques Audiard is fast becoming the world's favourite French director – and all without the help of Uggie the dog. His last two films, The Beat that my Heart Skipped and the 2009 prison drama, A Prophet, were near-flawless examples of how to revitalise a genre movie by packing it with passion, depth and distinctive, flesh-and-blood characters. His new film, Rust and Bone, also benefits from the star power of its leading lady, Marion Cotillard, so it could be his biggest hit yet.

Before we see her, though, we're introduced to Matthias Schoenaerts, a brawny, bearded, unemployed ex-boxer who takes his five-year-old son from Belgium to the Cote d'Azur, where he moves in with a sister he hasn't seen in years. After he gets a job as a nightclub bouncer, he meets Cotillard, a killer-whale trainer in a marine park. She seems to be several miles out of his league. But when she loses her lower legs in a grisly accident, his straight-talking, unpitying support is what she needs.

There's a lot about Rust and Bone that's excellent, not least its astonishing digital effects. Never mind creating Gollum or the Hulk, CGI doesn't get any more mind-boggling than when it's showing us Cotillard with nothing below her knees except thin air in some scenes and metal limbs in others. What's even more impressive is the raw intensity of Cotillard's performance. The moment when she steps out of a van, on prosthetic legs, with a look of ferocious, Lady Macbeth-like determination on her face, you know you're watching one of our most dazzlingly bright movie stars. Schoenaerts, on the other hand, is more like Tahar Rahim in A Prophet, in that he never seems like an actor playing a role, but a real person who has somehow wandered into a fictional film.

As strong as Audiard's drama is, however, it didn't affect me as much as I wanted it to, probably because its initial, harsh social realism soon goes soft. Despite all the scenes of amputation, depression, casual sex, and bare-knuckle boxing, the film can feel insubstantial, fey and just a bit too beautiful. There's always plenty going on, but none of it ever threatens to stop Cotillard and Schoenaerts getting together (assuming their relationship doesn't hinge on anyone being able to spell his surname). By the end, it's become a soppy romance about two damaged people finding love and learning to live again. There's rust and bone in there, yes, but cotton wool, too.

For a Good Time, Call ... is an indie comedy about two young women (Ari Graynor and Lauren Miller) who can't stand each other but have no choice but to share an apartment in New York, where they set up a phone-sex line and become best friends. And that's it. There aren't any other complications or subplots. Even when one of the women gets a boyfriend, and the other gets a surprise visit from her parents, any awkwardness is forgotten a minute or two later, so that Graynor and Miller can get on with hugging and declaring their love for one another.

The film's biggest mistake is to assume that phone-sex lines are so inherently scandalous and hilarious that it won't take anything more than a montage of the women talking dirty to have us rolling in the aisles. But aren't these particular services a pre-broadband phenomenon? I'm no expert, I promise, but I remember the phone-sex operators in Robert Altman's Short Cuts in 1993 and in Spike Lee's Girl 6 in 1996, so I wonder what the director's next film is going to be about – Blur and Oasis's race to get a No 1 single?

Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
books
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
books
Arts and Entertainment
The man with the golden run: Daniel Craig as James Bond in 'Skyfall'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Waving Seal' by Luke Wilkinson was Highly Commended in the Portraits category

photography
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering