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THE OVERVIEW: Illegal Migration Bill highlights the tradition of xenophobia in the Tory party with echoes of racial incitement from global history

March 29, 2023 – 2:07 pm |

“Not a pretty picture: A Tory legacy of divide and rule” The Illegal Migration Bill highlights a party that has a history of xenophobic policies.

The UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s controversial Illegal Migration Bill has caused a lot of concern with protests and open letters condemning its harshness, even exposing …

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Rust & Bone Film Review

Submitted by on November 18, 2012 – 10:21 pmNo Comment

Actress Marion Cotillard.

Two years after his hard-hitting crime drama A Prophet, Jacques Audiard is back with a moving love story that unites against all odds a recent amputee and an underground street fighter.

It starts off like an American road-movie: Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts), a hefty Belgian bloke and his five-year-old son are standing by the side of the highway, hitchhiking their way down to the South of France. Broke and homeless, father and son settle at the sister’s modest house in Antibes.

Ali’s boxing skills gets him a job as a bouncer in a club: that’s where he meets Stéphanie (Marion Cotillard)– she’s lying on the ground, knocked out by an oaf who couldn’t take no for an answer. She’s a strong-headed and seductive girl who makes a living out of training orcas. But it’s only after Stéphanie looses both her legs in a shocking accident involving one of the killer whales, that they meet again.

Ali is a huge guy hiding a good heart. He’s a lazy father and a selfish worker, but Matthias Schoenaerts (the ‘Belgian Ryan Gosling’) succeeds in suggesting the character’s huge sensitivity boiling behind his muscly shell.

Stéphanie’s whole world is shattered and as she sinks into depression, Ali challenges her to get back on her (prosthetic) feet. They build a natural friendship, spend time by the sea and at Ali’s illegal street-fights from which he scraps a living.

The reality of her handicap is shown crudely, sometimes provocatively, as if to say: so what? During one of their many afternoons at the beach, the disgusted stare of two old rich women at Stéphanie’s legs – or lack of – says it all on the challenge lying ahead for the young woman towards the acceptance of her new body. The subtleties of Stéphanie’s emotional state are beautifully conveyed by Cotillard’s performance, worthy of her Oscar winning act in ‘La Môme’.

They engage into a fragile romance, after Ali, in his typical brutish yet subtle manners, suggests they have sex. Alike the couple uniting an ex-con and a deaf secretary in Audiard’s 2001 dark thriller ‘Read my Lips’, this is an alliance not meant to be. Their pact isn’t based on love or pity: she calls him up every time she needs reassurance and he shows up on the condition that he is ‘OP’ – operational that is. However with Stéphanie, Ali behaves in stark contrast to his animal manners with other women he gets in bed with.

When she becomes Ali’s street-fight manager, her seductive spirit is back, as she proudly rules this male-only environment, daringly showing off her prosthetic legs with a cowboy-like grin. But Ali’s carelessness towards the law, his family and responsibilities catches up with him.

Audiard has always shown an empathic fascination with those most isolated in society. Here he excels in his portrayal of two vulnerable souls – one emotionally, the other physically – and of their two wounded bodies.

There is almost too much material to fit in two hours, perhaps because the director has adapted together several short stories from the Canadian author Craig Davidson. Luckily, the winner of the London Film Festival does not lose out in intensity, culminating in one of the final scenes in which Ali finally gets a chance to redeem himself.

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