on the wonder that is marion cotillard

March 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

question: have you seen this woman?  she looks like this:

sings like this:

and of course, more importantly, she can act like this:

the above was a scene from one of the films of 2007 that made a great impression on me, la môme, or la vie en rose as it was released internationally (si vous ne comprenez pas le français, “la môme” veut dire “the sparrow”).  in this scene, actress marion cotillard singlehandedly brought down the house with her raw, unadulterated, blistering emotion (at least my house).  i still cry every time i see her scream.  if you have not seen this film about legendary french chanteuse édith piaf and if you have no idea who this édith piaf or marion cotillard are……. well, suffice it to say you have my deepest sympathy.

marion cotillard is, in few words, the angelina jolie of the french media.  she and french leading man/director guillaume canet (who, for interest’s sake, was once married to actress diane kruger), are in european tabloids as often as they are on screen.


but the point is, in this post i will attempt to show you why all this attention on this actress is so completely well-deserved:

her absolutely crazy oscar-winning performance as the tragic, endearing singer and french legend, édith piaf, in 2007’s la vie en rose:

the final scene from 2009’s public enemies, in the role of billie frichette (john dillinger/johnny depp‘s lover):

in 2009’s nine, as louisa contini, aka the only legitimate reason that upgrades nine from a spectacle to a film:

as a vengeful prostitute in 2004’s un long dimanche de fiançailles (a very long engagement):

and going further back, in 2003’s jeux d’enfants (english title: love me if you dare.. dying to see it!), which she starred in with current boyfriend guillaume canet:

as i see it, the sheer gravitational power of this woman’s performances, whether she’s playing a grief-stricken édith piaf or a prostitute or a faithful wife, is what makes the films she appears in.  i’m starting to think that out of today’s actresses, some are to be admired, as a kind of prototype for a superhuman being like say, angelina jolie or cate blanchett; some are supposed to be relatable, but are still far too unconsciously aloof and beautiful to really feel a connection to: for me, kate winslet or natalie portman.  still others are supposed to be the girl-next-door, for whom you should feel an instant sense of kindred spirits (but, i mean really, who’s ever met a girl next door like that), i.e. rachel mcadams.

there are a few, however, that for me stand out as seeming more real than others, more solid, more deep, women that possess the ability to convey something straight from their eyes to yours and make it feel true.  for me, marion cotillard is one of those actresses.  through her delicate but resonating performances, she makes her édith piaf (even from beneath layers of synthetics and make-up) feel closer and more real to me than any of kirsten dunst or jennifer aniston‘s supposed girl-next-door characters ever could.  in short, cotillard is an actress.

a few words:

(on filmmaking) “It’s a dream… it’s a dream for those who make films and it’s a dream for those who watch them.  It’s a dream and it remains a dream… and if you just think of all the people that stop to watch a crew shooting in a street.. it’s a real entertainment, a real dream.. i love it.”




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