Thursday, December 27, 2007

And the Oscar Goes To...

I'm absolutely stunned, almost too stunned to write or form thoughts. I just finished watching La Vie en Rose, and to say Marion Cotillard blew me away would be the understatement of the millennium. I have never seen a performance like that, and I've seen a hell of a lot of films. She's a revelation. Who is she? Where did she come from? Where has she been hiding this talent? Why didn't I know about her before? Oh my god, she's unbelievable as beloved French singer/icon Edith Piaf. The film as a film almost doesn't matter to me. It's inconsequential.

It's strange that I would watch an actual biopic just after seeing Walk Hard. Certainly all the biopic tropes and clichés are there. The film really is excellent, but it's not perfect. There are structural issues, and it gets a bit confusing with the constant time-jumping. It looks good, but I don't think it's anything particularly special aesthetically. By the end of the film, I still had no idea who some of the main characters were, and as much as I tried to ignore it or rationalize it away, I really was bothered by the seemingly snobby lack of subtitles for the songs. I was tempted to give the film a perfect rating simply because of Marion Cotillard, but these flaws are just too fundamental for me to do that. I'm not saying that she isn't good enough to make them go away. Of course she is. She's so perfect that she could bring about world peace with her transcendent performance. However, it's not that simple. I have to analyze the film as its own entity, totally separate from Cotillard. When I do that, the problems just aren't minor enough to gloss over. They might be in another film, but not here. In this case, the flaws need to be addressed and evaluated for what they are.

But like I said, it hardly matters. She IS the film. The film clocks in at 2 hours and 20 minutes, but I would have gladly watched Marion Cotillard for 10 hours if that's how long it took to tell Piaf's story. She is mesmerizing. The transformation she goes through during the course of the film is astounding. She's equally convincing as a teenager as she is as an old woman. Make-up alone can't do that. That's acting.

But it's so much more than physical. Her performance is so deep and poignant. I just want to weep because her performance is that beautiful. I don't know what else to say. I'm going to run out of adjectives soon. You just need to see it for yourself. I could gush forever. She's just a miracle. The Oscar race is over. If she doesn't win, there's no justice in the world. Her performance made me forget other actresses even made films this year. I don't know if I've ever seen someone more deserving. I know the Oscars really mean nothing, but she needs to be honored by the Academy for this achievement. This is one of the best performances ever captured on film and one of the most extraordinary I've ever seen in my whole life. Simply breathtaking.

I didn't know a thing about Edith Piaf before watching this film. In one scene, when she's on top of the world, someone tells Cotillard as Piaf that she can't do something, and she counters, "I can't? Then what's the point of being Edith Piaf?" At this moment, I felt like I really knew and understood Edith Piaf, like she was an old friend. This is just one scene. Cotillard does this for the entire film, and she's in it for about 90% of it, in every scene, maybe even more (there's another actress playing her as a young girl). On another note, I'm not sure I've ever seen better lip-synching. Cotillard makes the music come alive. I need to get all of Piaf's music now - it's exquisite. What a voice.

Marion Cotillard is a star. She IS Edith Piaf, and she makes you believe it and feel it with every fiber of your being. How exciting to witness such a performance. Marion Cotillard, merci beaucoup for this experience from the bottom of my heart. I can't wait to hear your acceptance speech.

Film Rating: ****1/2 (out of 5)
Marion Cotillard: ***** (There aren't enough stars to count that high.)

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