Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:
This movie might have been something had director Jacques Audiard bothered to give it a shape and some conciseness. I love Marion Cotillard; she reminds me a bit of Nadia Sibirskaia, though there’s a smidge of Gollum in there as well. She would have been great in silents; you’re never not sure what she’s thinking. Matthias Schoenaerts, who plays the thuggish street fighter, is good too. I like how his eyes are too close together, like they’re on the verge of breaching his nose and blobbing into one another; it lends his face a suspenseful quality that’s lacking in more conventionally handsome actors. (Schoenaerts seems destined to star in “The Vladimir Putin Story.”) But his character’s narrative is largely extraneous; I kept wondering why I was being asked to care about his relationship with his son and his involvement in an illegal surveillance scheme. (A scene in which he saves his son from drowning is good but unintegrated — it’s like a little movie unto itself.) Acting aside, the best thing about “Rust and Bone” is its treatment of Cotillard’s baser instincts. She’s a sensualist who finds a sort of erotic solace in her interaction with big, uncontrollable forces (whales, fighters, the ocean), and the movie doesn’t try to explain that away or apologize for it. And bless Audiard for avoiding the claptrap that typically accompanies movies dealing with the disabled. If anything, Cotillard becomes less noble upon losing her legs: precariously perched inside a nightclub, she looks at the slender gamines in their tiny miniskirts, and shades of envy glide across her face.