STARRING: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts, Armand Verdure and Corinne Masiero
EARNED (Worldwide): $25.7m
AWARDS: None (2 Golden Globe Nominations and 2 BAFTA nominations for Best Actress and Best Foreign Language Film)
Put in charge of his young son, Alain leaves Belgium for Antibes to live with his sister and her husband as a family. Alain’s bond with Stephanie, a killer whale trainer, grows deeper after Stephanie suffers a horrible accident.
Alain Van Versch (Also known as Ali) is an unemployed father in his mid-20’s moving to Antibes, France, to crash at his sisters place in order to find work to support him and his son Sam. Along the way Ali comes across Stéphanie Ménochet, a killer whale trainer and the two begin to share a deeper connection once Stéphanie suffers a horrific accident during a show that causes her to lose both of her legs.
Taking a different approach after A Prophet, Jacques Audiard brings a film where two people meet on a chance encounter, one that normally would never likely happen again until events in motion set them on a path for the two of them to share a deeper connection and really, whether they want to admit it or not, need each other more than they believe. Matthias Schoenaerts plays Ali brilliantly, a man at his lowest point that ignores the warnings from Stéphanie about the life he’s leading, after all she knows what it’s like to lose everything you once had, while Marion Collitard is terrific as Stéphanie, with facial expressions that say more than one line of dialogue could ever say. The two are different from the rest of the crowd and that’s what separates them from traditional Hollywood versions this story would go through. The special effects are understated and brilliant, ranging from Stéphanie’s amputated legs to the accident scene. The film took me a few views to really appreciate the film as a whole, there is moments that I didn’t like but for the overall dynamic between Schoenarts and Collitard, it’s a must see.
FAVOURITE SCENE: Ali and Sam are playing around on a frozen lake. As Ali takes his eye off Sam, Sam falls through a weak spot and Ali makes a desperate attempt of saving his son by punching the ice to try and break it. The way the scene is shot and plays out is just as intense as anything Audiard has done.
FAVOURITE QUOTE: ‘In a human hand there are 27 bones. Some apes have more. A gorilla has 32, five in each thumb. A human has 27. If you break an arm or a leg, the bone grows back together by calcification. It will be stronger than before. If you break a bone in your hand, it will never recover completely. Before every fight, you’ll think. In each slap, you’ll think. You’ll be careful. But at some point the pain will come back. Like needles. Like glass splinters.’ – Ali
DID YOU KNOW?: Matthias Schoenaerts spent two months boxing and eating junk food like burgers, ice-cream and pizza in order to gain weight and a little belly, because Jacques Audiard wanted Ali to look strong but not fit, a bit unhealthy because the guy is poor so he doesn’t have the means to feed himself properly.