Stephanie (Marion Cotillard) was an orca trainer at a Seaquarium park attraction before a tragedy during a live show changed her life virtually in the blink of an eye. Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) is a down-on-his-luck father to five year old Sam. Ali is living with his sister, while making money boxing in street fights in his free time. Two people who have lost much somehow find love in each other's company, and the will to live.
I recently saw Matthias Schoenaerts for the first time in Far from the Madding Crowd, in the role of Gabriel Oak, opposite Carey Mulligan. If you read my review and the comments section you probably know that I liked him a lot. In Rust and Bone, opposite Marion Cotillard, he delivers a raw and gritty award-worthy performance and so does she. They shine in tumultuous and emotionally demanding roles, showing the evolution of both Stephanie and Ali; Schoenaerts does so by displaying an odd mix of grit and sensibility. Cotillard has in Rust and Bone a unique opportunity to display her amazing talent as an actress, and while she isn't on the same level as she was in La Vie en Rose, this may very well be her second best.