Jacques Audiard’s Rust and Bone is a beautifully shot film, filled with unexpected turns, raw scenes of bloody violence and emotion, and contains some of the best performances of the year. Based on Craig Davidson’s short story collection of the same name, the film focuses on aimless sometimes-professional fighter Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) and his adorable five-year-old son Sam (the gifted Armand Verdure in his film début), who are in somewhat dire straits. Ali has just recently taken responsibility for the boy from his mother (who is never seen) and feeds him from other people’s garbage that he finds on a train they take en route to live with his sister Louise (Céline Sallette). When working as a bouncer at a club one evening, Ali intervenes in a scuffle involving the beautiful Stéphanie (Marion Cotillard), who he eventually drives home. She lives with her boyfriend, but Ali still leaves his number in case she ever needs him. As it turns out, she does. Stéphanie is an orca trainer at Marineland and an accident causes her to wake up in a hospital with her two legs amputated. Depressed and alone, she calls Ali on a whim, and the two become deeply intertwined as they suffer through their personal demons and give each other a certain greater purpose. Ali feeds off the violent energy of his bloody, bareknuckle fights, while Stéphanie craves the charge of working with the dangerous orcas, but they are able to satiate certain needs through each other’s company.