Love is messy and chaotic in Jacques Audiard’s grimly compelling romance about two damaged souls who are thrown together just as their lives are falling apart.
Shot without a single drop of sentiment but a great deal of empathy, Rust And Bone captures the passion and roller-coaster emotions of the wayward characters as they wrestle with their predicaments.
Marion Cotillard, who won an Academy Award as Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose and starred alongside Christian Bale this summer in The Dark Knight Rises, is a strong contender for another golden statuette.
She delivers a mesmerising and emotionally raw performance here as an aquatic trainer facing adversity.
Luminous big screen beauties, who are physically or emotionally disfigured for their art, have always been catnip to Oscar voters.
Equally powerful is co-star Matthias Schoenaerts, who catalyses electrifying sexual chemistry with Cotillard in their on-screen couplings.
Audiard directs with aplomb - the scene in which Stephanie loses her legs, shot from the bottom of the crystal blue whale pool, is both beautiful and shocking.
He delivers another sharp jolt in the closing minutes, shattering any illusions that there is anything more than a pin prick of hope at the end of a very long tunnel for both characters.