- Released Internationally on 17/05/12
- Released in Malta by KRS on 30/04/13
- French, with subtitles
3-word review: Visceral and beautiful.
Love is not always pretty. Some might argue that love is never pretty, but after many decades of romantic comedies full of good-looking, smartly-dressed people with toothpaste smiles, it’s not surprising that many of us roam around expecting knights on white horses or proposals during summer rainfall. Thankfully, every so often a love story comes along that manages to convey the ugly, compromising side of relationships, but which also manages to show how the resulting emotions are no less genuine or intense. I have been lucky enough to come across a few such films, but this is definitely one of the best I can remember.
Directed by French director Jacques Audiard, who received mountains of praise for his last film - 2010’s A Prophet - the film stars Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard (La Vie en rose, Inception) and relatively unknown Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts as the central roles. The two characters have very little in common, but both have been dealt a rough hand in very different circumstances. A chance chivalrous encounter leads to future meetings, but in the meantime both their lives have changed significantly. He is a single father who struggles to make ends meet and ends up using his brute strength to support his son. She is a killer whale trainer who suffers an accident at work that changes her outlook on life.
This is a very emotional film - I went from fear to tension to anger to sadness in quick succession, but the emotions and salient points are not spoon-fed to the audience. Audiard has the courage and skill to get his message across with very few words and with many missing pieces needing filling in. He is aided immensely by the powerful yet subtle performances from both main actors, as well as the unobtrusive visual effects where needed. The film has its graphic moments, but no amount of bloodied fists can compete with what’s going on inside. Very different and very impressive.