Director: Jacques Audiard
Year Released: 2012
Potentially exploitative material gets an admirable, sober treatment by Audiard, who takes two damaged people - Marion Cotillard (a killer whale trainer crippled after a freak accident) and Matthias Schoenaerts (a street fighter with emotional issues) - and finds a way to redeem them: she becomes his 'agent' of sorts, he helps her with her physical needs. Though the story isn't exactly profound - and some of the side stories, including Schoenaerts' strained relationship with his son and his side-job installing (illegal) security cameras aren't developed as fully as I would have liked - the core relationship between the boxer and the cripple is captivating, particularly with Cotillard providing all the emotion needed to see it through (she's headstrong enough to keep from being a pitiable figure, and when her face sinks into this muted despair you can tell she's been internally wounded). The scene with Schoenaerts and his son on an ice pond is superbly done, and when he begins punching the ice (breaking his hands in the process), it's a challenge to not flinch.