Posts Tagged ‘Marion Cotillard’

Two Days, One Night: A Vote of Confidence—Movie

December 4, 2014

Among other things, “Two Days, One Night” poses the question, “how far would you go to get your job back and how hard would you fight?” Written and directed by brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, “Two Days, One Night” is a film about friendship, morality, love and the will to live. That covers a lot of territory but the Dardennes handle it all spectacularly well.

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The film is set in Seraing, an industrial town in the Belgian province of Liège. Sandra (Marion Cotillard), a wife and mother, was an employee in one of its industrial plants and has been on sick leave for depression…for what…we’re never told, but whatever the cause, it was extremely powerful. Ready to come back to work, Sandra’s been told that management gave her co-workers a choice of bringing her back and getting no bonus or letting her go and getting a bonus. A vote was taken and she came out on the losing end. However, she’s encouraged by an associate who’s also a friend, Juliette (Catherine Salée), to talk to their supervisor and ask for another vote based on the fact that some people might have been given questionable information about the nature of the vote. It takes a lot of convincing by Juliette and Sandra’s husband, Manu (Fabrizio Rongione), but Sandra finally agrees and she just makes the deadline her boss has given to meet with him. He relents to another vote on the coming Monday. There are 16 votes and she needs a majority of them to win back her job. This means her weekend will be spent calling on co-workers and making her case for their vote. The process sounds a lot easier than it is. For someone recovering from depression as is Sandra, summoning up the courage and strength to make phone calls and in-person visits is not simple under normal circumstances, let alone when one’s confidence is not in top-notch shape.

The Dardenne brothers have written a terrific, relatable story. Through them we meet a variety of every day, working-class citizens. None of them have a vendetta against Sandra—they just have their own lives to lead and we see how each thinks about Sandra’s situation differently. The Dardennes also use music very effectively to demonstrate the changing spirit of their character.

Marion Cotillard is simply perfect in capturing the sadness and uncertainty Sandra still feels. You believe her character’s awkwardness as she talks with her co-workers. Her character doesn’t want pity…she just wants what she believes is fair. Cotillard manages to pull all of this off. Watching her portray Sandra’s growth—from the very bottom of despair to real progress and rise in her self-esteem is a master-class in acting. Hers is an incredible performance and well worth the price of admission.

“Two Days, One Night” is Belgium’s submission for the foreign language film category for the upcoming the 87th Academy Award and deservedly so.

3 ½ nuggets out of 4

 

Inception: It’s Dreamy—Movie

August 2, 2010

Leap of faith. This phrase is repeated frequently throughout Christopher Nolan’s Inception. The same phrase applies to Nolan and his work. You never know what you’re going to get when you enter his world…from his earliest films…Following and Memento to the Batman films and now Inception. You take a leap of faith and you’re ultimately rewarded…even if you don’t always get it or disagree about endings or what it all means.

Inception is entertaining from the first frame to the very last. Not only are you stimulated visually, but you are stimulated intellectually as well. Inception’s production qualities are fabulous and the entire film is abetted by Hans Zimmer’s wonderful score.

Without giving anything away, Inception is the story of a group of brainiac thieves headed by Cobb ( Leonardo DiCaprio) who are able to extract information from people when they are at their most vulnerable…while dreaming. The group is asked by wealthy Japanese businessman, Saito, (Ken Watanabe) to do the seemingly impossible—plant an idea into a young rival’s dream–the heir apparent to a conglomerate, Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy).

DiCaprio turns in another fantastic, understated performance as the brilliant, but troubled Cobb. He is surrounded by a terrific supporting cast– Joseph Gordon-Levitt,  Ellen Page, Tom Hardy and Dileep Rao as members of his team; Michael Caine, in a small but important role as his father-in-law; and most especially, Watanabe, Murphy and Marion Cotillard as Cobb’s wife, Mal. Since her Oscar-winning role as Edith Piaf, Cotillard has amazed in every subsequent film and she gives a hauntingly beautiful performance here. She and DiCaprio are very good together.

Did I understand every minute of the film? No. Am I sure my conclusion is the correct one? No. Was I challenged and thoroughly entertained on every level? YES!

4 nuggets out of 4

Nine—Movie

January 8, 2010

I  loved Nine. However, this is definitely not your grandmother’s musical and will not be for everyone. Based on the Broadway musical, which in turn is based on the autobiographical Fellini movie 8 ½, Nine is directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago) and written by Michael Tolkin and the late Anthony Minghella. Nine stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Guido, a legendary Italian director, struggling with creative block…struggling with his life.  Pressed by colleagues and the press for details on his next movie, he flees to a spa to reflect on his life. While there he has present-day encounters with and  flashbacks to the women who have been important  in his life and have made him the man he has become…for better or worse. The problem with the movie is that not enough of these scenes flow well together.

Each actress in the film has a featured song, some with better success than others, but all do a really great job. Penelope Cruz, as Guido’s mistress, Carla, is terrific. Her scenes are powerful…you feel her hurt and pain. But who knew she could sing and dance…I mean really sing and dance. Her voice is strong and what that woman can do with her body is amazing. Fergie, of the Black Eyed Peas, plays the prostitute who introduces the young Guido to sex. Her song, “Be Italian” is the film’s signature piece, the one you’ll hum leaving the theater and her way with it is a show stopper. Marion Cotillard, as Guido’s wife Luisa, has some very strong scenes that will break your heart and unlike her role as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, Cotillard does her own singing and does a great job. Nicole Kidman, as his muse, Claudia, has a rather small role, but she acquits herself nicely.  Who knew Judi Dench, playing Guido’s costume designer, could sing, but sing she does and shows off a nice pair of legs in the process. Sophia Loren, displaying the oddest eye makeup in movie history, has a small but important role as Guido’s dead mother. Kate Hudson, whose role as journalist Stephanie was unnecessarily added for the movie, rounds out the female cast. Finally, there is Daniel Day-Lewis. There appears to be nothing this man cannot do. He’s extremely graceful and can more than carry a tune.

To some extent Nine is undone by its script, but if you love great singing and dancing, you’re in for a fun time at the movies.

3 nuggets out of 4


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