Jacques Audiard's flick gets the psychological effects of amputation, but would Marion Cotillard really be walking so quickly, asks Limbless Association member Stuart Holt
Most people can't imagine what it's like to lose a limb.
I had both my legs amputated below the knee in 1997, after contracting meningitis and septicemia.
I was in an induced coma for two weeks; when I came round, my left leg was already gone, but the doctors instructed my wife not to tell me.
When I realised what had happened, I cried and cried.
This flick does very well at putting across the psychological effects of limb loss.
Stephanie, played by Marion Cotillard, is a young orca trainer who loses both her legs above the knee following an incident with one of her killer whales.
When she comes round in hospital and discovers her legs have been amputated, she's very distraught, and a period of depression follows; she even seems to contemplate suicide.
I can't recall ever feeling quite that low – I had a lot of support from friends and family – but for the first 18 months, I was a swine to live with.
You just can't do what you used to do; one of the biggest issues is sexual – you can't imagine feeling attractive again.
That's exactly how Stephanie feels: she initially rejects the advances of Ali, the man she becomes involved with, because she thinks she's lost her sexual self.
But as she grows more confident, especially after being fitted with her prostheses, she's able to feel attractive again.
For any amputee, confidence is so important: so much of your recovery is dependent on your mind.
Stephanie's stumps are far too long for someone who's been amputated above the knee, however – and though she moves well on the floor, she finds it far too easy to sit up in bed: for anyone who's lost their legs, that's extremely difficult.
Her electronic limbs are also extremely expensive – about £27,000 per leg.
You can't get those on the NHS over here, and it's hard to imagine that even her private health insurance would have covered them.
The first fitting of your artificial limbs is usually extremely painful, as we see in the film, but there's just no way that Stephanie could be strolling along the promenade on one stick after two days of walking practice.
When I was first fitted with my legs, it was three months before I was able to take them home from hospital.
Learning to walk again is a very slow, painful process.
• Stuart Holt is a trustee of The Limbless Association.
Rust and Bone is out now.
World cinemaJacques AudiardMarion CotillardDramaLaura Barnettguardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies.
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