This is my new favourite film ever, let alone being my favourite Frenchie. It's not just a love story, there's so much more and it's quite the emotional journey for both the characters and the viewer, underneath the surface of the drama. I was in tears at the end and, trust me, it takes a lot for a film to make me to cry when it doesn't have any animals in it. Srsly.
Starring Marion Cotillard (girl crush alert) and Matthias Schoenaerts (just plain crush alert), the film tells the story of Ali, a father to his young son and struggling with money, who on the off chance meets Stéphanie, a killer whale trainer. An unfortunate accident leaves her with both legs amputated, shown in a painstaking scene as Marion Cotillard drags her characters body across the floor in a flood of tears. Ali, on the other hand, begins fighting for money, a dangerous hobby he loves but that can also help him financially. Over time, they develop a close relationship; Ali helps Stephanie to get back on her artificial feet and Stéphanie accompanies Ali to his fights. The film hits its climax (in my opinion) at the end when Ali's son Sam is hospitalised, suffering from a coma. Ali realises the two most important people in his life are Sam and Stéphanie. He pleads "Ne me laisse pas" to her on the phone in the only fragile moment we see of Ali's character.
Here comes the tearjerker: The film closes with a heartwrenching dialogue from Ali. Sam was hospitalised after falling through the icy surface of a lake. Ali had to punch the ice to retrieve Sam (which was a sad enough scene in itself), fracturing the bones in his hands. The dialogue says "There are 27 bones in a human hand. Some monkeys have more. A gorilla has 32, five in each thumb. A human has 27. You break an arm, you break a leg, after a while calcium joins it back together. It may even end up stronger than before. But break a bone in your hand, and you'll see it never heals. You'll remember it at each fight, with every punch. You'll be careful. But one day the pain will come back. Like needles. Like glass splinters."...Pair that with the image of son and father holding hands and The Wolves by Bon Iver playing in the background and the tears will just flow.
Let's not forget how beautiful the cinematography is as well. The lighting, the shots, the stunning performances, oh and the soundtrack by Alexandre Desplat (how could I forget?!) are all perfect. Watch the film, even if you don't know a single word in French...come on, let's not be ignorant. It is so damn good.