Monday, March 17, 2008

Movie Mondays #3: Marion Cotillard in "La Vie En Rose" by Rickious

"La Vie En Rose" will be remembered as the movie where Marion Cotillard gave it her all. Regretfully, I only noticed when a clip was shown during the presentation for the Oscar for Best Actress. I gotta admit, I wanted Ellen Page to win that one. After seeing Marion's portrayal of Edith Piaf though, Ellen Page's performance in "Juno" suddenly looked like the proverbial walk in the park.

It might be an error to call it a mere portrayal though, since it looked as if Marion was imbued by the very spirit of Edith Piaf herself. It was very painful to watch her. I can only describe the performance as raw, in the sense that she laid everything bare for everyone to see. Look at her eyes as she sings in the last scene. She doesn't blink at all. It was like looking into a wound that was bleeding profusely. Stella Adler, Marlon Brando's acting teacher, once told him to always hold back twenty percent so the audience can relate to you. Obviously, Marion Cotillard never heard of this advice or she chose to disregard it completely.

I cannot recall a portrayal of old age by a younger actor as phenomenally believable as this one. The lovely and lithe ingenue that I recall receiving the Best Actress Oscar is nowhere to be found in the bony arms hanging loosely on the stooped and illness-ravaged frame of her character. Eat your heart out, Daniel Day-Lewis! She just drank YOUR milkshake!

Al Pacino remarked that for Scarface, he had to do a Meryl Streep. He had to get the body, then he had to get the voice, the two tools of the actor's trade. Marion Cotillard's voice in this movie stays true to the character's origins, the gutter. It was deep, dirty, and devoid of refinement. It is a stark betrayal of the beauty of her singing voice.

I believe that all great actors have that singular film where they give a portrayal so astonishing that it cements their career for life and etches their images in our memories forever. Brando in "A Streetcar Named Desire", De Niro in "Raging Bull", Day-Lewis in "My Left Foot", Oldman in "Dracula", Swank in "Boy's Don't Cry", Hanks in "Philadelphia", Bale in "The Machinist" and now, Cotillard in "La Vie En Rose". Lesser actors languish in mediocrity, obscurity, a career in TV, or worse, a career in reality TV.

Here's the trailer for "La Vie En Rose"...

...and the Wikipedia articles about the film and Marion Cotillard.

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