Rust and Bone begins with a father and his son. Alain, played by Matthias Schoenaerts, is travelling across France. Times are clearly tough, and desperate measures are called for when it is also clear that Alain is a devoted father who will do whatever it takes to provide for his son. Whatever they are leaving behind must have been an inferior existence to strive for the situation they have found themselves in at the start of the film. Their destination is Alain's sister's, where they are being welcomed to stay with her and her husband. They are only just getting-by themselves and their charity is not going to extend further than putting a roof over the heads of Alain and their nephew. However, Alain's prospects are thin on the ground and far from promising. All he seems to have going for him is that he was a boxer when he lived in Belgium. Nevertheless, he is given a job as a doorman at a nightclub, where he meets our other lead character, Stephanie. Played by Marion Cotillard, Stephanie is alone at the nightclub when Alain comes to her aid during a fight she is having with one of the establishment's male revelers. He drives her home and their connection is the seed for the blossoming bond that follows.
We then follow Stephanie. Just when we're amazed at how she makes her living, captivated even, tragedy strikes.
Cotillard was awarded with her Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role in 2008 and was only the second woman to do so for a non-English-speaking part behind Sophia Loren. In Rust and Bone, Cotillard gives another acclaim-deserving performance here; exactly what can be confidently expected from her now. She is one of the finest actresses in the business and is going to have a successful acting career as long as she desires.
Returning to the story, Stephanie makes contact with Alain and it proves to be the best decision she could have conceivably made at the time. It is a life-changing time for them both. They become an amazingly positive influence on each other and their relationship becomes far from a straightforward one. However, Alain still has his own responsibilities to attend to and he becomes involved in illegal, high-stakes street-fighting, He is fighting, not for the glory, but for the money. He's good at it and it's his best chance to provide for his son.
Rust and Bone is a powerfully engaging and emotive story about recovery. It tells the fateful story of a bond between an emotionally handicapped man and a physically handicapped woman, whose support for each other develops and progresses throughout the film's fleeting 120 minutes running-time. At the end of those two hours, you'll feel ready to go through the experience again despite the abundance of heart-wrenching scenes you've just witnessed. It's a magnificently engrossing tour-de-force demanding your attention.