The great Jacques Audiard (Read My Lips, The Beat My Heart Skipped, A Prophet) has written (with Thomas Bidegain) and directed an intense story of two worlds that collide in the guise of the formidable Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts (Bullhead). It is the love story of Stephanie and Ali, a reluctant couple that meets haphazardly at a club where he works as a bouncer and comes to her aid in a melee. They belong to a different class. She works as a whale trainer in Marineland, a tacky marine park in the south of France, and he's a troglodyte, a bit of a drifter with a 5-year old in tow, who is crashing at his sister's house. These two firmly believe in their own obstacles. She is the victim of a horrid accident, which makes her first depressed and then brittle and scared of love, and he is a royal fuck up, a beast, unsentimental, primal and irresponsible. But somewhere beneath all that muscle, he has a decent heart (and the hots for her) and he becomes her friend. He gets her out of her rut almost without wanting to, by refusing to feed her self pity. And she slowly warms up to him, which is almost as painful as having another accident. They are both physically battered, and love doesn't make it any easier. Rust and Bone is the story of how they end up loving each other despite their best efforts. If this sounds trite, in the masterful hands of Audiard, it certainly isn't. He has the good sense to cast Cotillard, who is a monster actress. Cotillard takes us through the hell of Stephanie's life after her accident without sentimentality, with courage and absolute veracity. It is a totally restrained performance, porous, transparent and transcendent. At some point she reads Ali the riot act, and it's like she is training another whale. But as strong and commanding as she tries to be, he devastates her, because she is vulnerable to him, to his mystifying power. Matthias Schoenaerts is also fantastic as Ali, a giant child with vast reserves of anger he uses best to beat other boxers to a pulp. Schoenaerts is a phenomenon: he has the body of a monster truck, but a sweet, childish face, and he is a gifted actor. Together, the two are combustible, particularly since they are wary of each other. She is a bit haughty and keeps him at bay and he responds by being an alpha male, oblivious to manners, and utterly unwilling to show her pity. They keep crossing the boundaries they both set, afraid of falling in love, until they are too much in each other's lives.Rust and Bone is an intense emotional experience, but not a histrionic one. Audiard's sensibility is more visceral and less intellectual than that of many of his French colleagues, and he is best at observing and portraying people's difficulty with their own emotions. Rust and Bone is adapted from a short story by Canadian writer Craig Davidson and features a great soundtrack with lots of pop songs in English, plus the elegant music of Alexandre Desplat, who does particularly good work in Audiard's films, here as reined in and as powerful as is everybody else in this stunning movie.