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Opening: Rust and Bone 

Jacques Audiard’s new film doesn’t sustain the intensity of his previous film, 2009’s epic The Prophet, but it still has some terrific moments and features excellent performances from Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts. The movie centers on Stephanie (Cotillard), a whale trainer who has both legs cut off in a terrible accident. We see her hit rock bottom and contemplate killing herself as she struggles to come to terms with her new life. But Stephanie undergoes a transformation when meets Ali (Schoenaerts), a brute of a man who works as a security guard but leads a double life as a bare knuckle street fighter. He could give two shits about her lack of legs and she likes that about him. But he also screws anything that moves and she doesn’t like that so much. That conflict, however, only makes Stephanie stronger, and she buys an SUV and then gets a tattoo (as a nice touch, Springsteen’s “Mr. State Trooper” plays as part of the film’s soundtrack) as she embraces a new look and attitude. This movie is certainly flawed (some of the artier cinematography feels forced and clashes with the realistic narrative) but Cotillard and Schoenaerts inhabit their characters so completely, you forget they’re acting.

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