Top positive review
81 people found this helpful
on 5 November 2012
This is a fiercely unsentimental film about `ordinary` people who occasionally behave in surprisingly extraordinary ways, to survive, to help others to cope, or merely to pay the rent.
A Belgian man named Alain (Matthias Schoenaerts, brilliant) and his small son Sam are on the road, escaping from - we`re never sure exactly what. They hole up with his sister and her husband in their poky apartment in Antibes, and he finds himself a dubious job, while earning some extra money bare-knuckle fighting. This is one tough homme, who rarely smiles, and is not always successful at being a capable father, though he tries to do his best. He is, however, highly successful with women...
Stephanie (Marion Cotillard, stunningly good) works at the local outdoor sealife centre, as a kind of ringmaster to a troupe of ostensibly tame killer whales, until there is a ghastly accident, from which she emerges horribly maimed.
Needless to say, the two people`s lives intersect, though not always in ways one might expect.
This is a beautifully directed, well-scripted film about how the least likely people can befriend each other and, ultimately, become more than simply fairweather friends. Cotillard - so remarkable as Piaf in La Vie En Rose a few years ago - is an actress who is what one might call endlessly watchable, with no excesses and no unnecessary posturing, giving a performance of deep integrity and truthfulness. She doesn`t overdo anything, and she has a soulful pair of eyes which appear always to be seeing that little bit further. Unlike another reviewer here, I found the CGI effects seamless, no distraction at all - in fact, I was wondering most of the time how on earth they managed to make it all look so real.
Schoenaerts is an actor new to me, but he gives something wonderful to this film, a shy brutality that in its turn bespeaks a brutalised past, but also a wish to be a better man, despite the lousy decisions he can`t seem to stop making. Armand Verdure, as his inquisitive, demanding son, is guilelessly effective too in his first film.
If it doesn`t perhaps deserve a full five stars, please don`t let that put you off seeing this rare and touching film.