by Angelo Muredda On paper, the most troubling thing about Rust & Bone is the suggestion, right from the title, that we're in for a yarn about maimed bodies that go bump in the night, grinding their way into oblivion. You have to give some credit to Jacques Audiard--who's otherwise taking a decisive step back from A Prophet--for going surprisingly easy on the figurative potential of a love story between Stephanie (Marion Cotillard), a whale trainer turned double-amputee after a rough day on the job, and Ali (Bullhead's Matthias Schoenaerts), a brutish security guard and distant father who moonlights as a back-alley boxer. Based on two short stories (it shows) from Toronto-born author Craig Davidson, the film puts itself squarely in the specious Paul Haggis tradition of the crisscrossing tragedy but keeps the stakes pretty low much of the time, mostly sparing us the usual tortured hymns about how we're all connected at some primal level. As a disability film, a problem genre that finds little middle ground between triumph-of-adversity celebrations and euthanasia apologies, it's also fairly attuned to mechanical matters that usually lie outside the bounds of melodrama. Consider Stephanie's insurance-paid apartment, a smartly-organized space for a wheelchair user, down to the widened doorframes and easily-accessible washer and dryer. Ephemera counts for something.