In Rust and Bone, Oscar-winning actress Marion Cotillard executes a delicately nuanced performance as Stephanie, a skilled trainer of orca whales who loses her legs in a freak accident during one of her shows with the aforementioned cetaceans. Interwoven with this event is the story of single father Alain (played by Matthias Schoenaerts), who lives with his sister and works as a bouncer at a club. Both characters have problems and undergo adversity. But they grow together in a no-nonsense friendship which gives each of them different perspectives.
The beautiful, award-winning score by Alexandre Desplat adds intensity and, like much of modern French cinema, Rust and Bone does not shy away from presenting scenes with grit and realism. Alain is blunt and sometimes appears uncaring and the relationships between the characters are presented with unsparing plausibility. It is not a sentimental film and yet it culminates in a quietly moving scene.