the more I am fascinated by her. Loved her in Mann’s Public Enemies and as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose. I was even impressed by her Vanity Fair Psycho photoshoot (Marion Cotillard as Marion Crane, above). She’s not just posing in these shots. She’s giving a real performance — and a far more convincing one than Anne Heche gave when she recreated the Psycho shower scene for Gus Van Sant. It’s typical of the commitment Cotillard brings to all her roles.
I find it interesting that Inception is the first Christopher Nolan film in which the women are consistently more compelling to watch than the men, and I don’t think it’s a matter of the writing. It’s just that Marion Cotillard (as the anima who haunts Leo’s dream worlds) and Ellen Page (as the novice dream architect) are such charismatic screen presences that they dominate all the scenes in which they appear. They communicate more intelligence and more of an inner life than the male actors. (Does anyone pay that much attention to Leo when Marion or Ellen are present?)
Nolan seems fascinated by her, too. The Edith Piaf song we hear repeated throughout Inception seems like an intentional reminder of Cotillard’s Oscar-winning performance as Piaf in La Vie en Rose. And how about the name of her Inception character, “Mal.” It suggests evil (as in malevolent or fleurs du mal) or unhappiness (as in malheureux), but it can also be read as a contraction of the actress’s real name – MA rion coti Llard.
Want to bet she ends up playing Catwoman in Nolan’s next Batman film?
ADDENDUM 8/13/10 – COTILLARD’S INLAND EMPIRE
It’s amazing the things one can find on the Internet. Like this short film, Lady Blue Shanghai, a 16-minute “art commercial” sponsored by Dior and directed by David Lynch which attempts to do for Cotillard what Mulholland Drive did for Naomi Watts and Inland Empire did for Laura Dern. There are echoes of Last Year at Marienbad, Kubrick’s The Shining, and the films of Wong Kar-Wai. The story involves a hotel room and a handbag – a Dior handbag, naturally – and takes place in contemporary Shanghai. All quite beautiful and enigmatic, as one might expect, and there is even a reference to my beloved blue flower motif.