Telluride: Marion Cotillard

French actress Marion Cotillard received one of the Telluride Film Festival’s three Tributes. On stage, she discussed her career that, besides her Oscar-winning performance as Edith Piaf In “La Vie en Rose”, includes films directed by Woody Allen, Tim Burton and the recent blockbuster, Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises”.

Marion in shadow

Marion Cotillard

Before “La Vie en Rose”, Cotillard said she “didn’t really understand” an actor staying in character the whole time. “It was a job”. This movie was very special and took me so long to get in the character…I needed 1/2 hour – 45 min. to prepare myself” after arriving early on the set. 

Though her film singing was dubbed by Piaf recordings, Cotillard said that Piaf “sang every day of her life so I thought I have to sing every day of mine. I would come very early on the set so nobody could hear me. I would sing very, very loud. It must have been terrible.” She found it “hard” to get out of character. As Piaf’s appearance became ravaged, Cotillard said she “looked like shit” in the film. She said seeing herself in the mirror with “no eyebrows” was “unbearable”.


Marion Cotillard at Telluride

Cotillard said that in “Public Enemies” director Michael Mann pushed the actors. She “loved” working on that film. Mann told her he wanted her to speak English without a French accent. 

When asked what type of director she prefers, Cotillard said “Every director like every human being is different”, you must “trust someone”, “no way is better” for a director, but “trust is important” for a good experience. 

She said she loves the English language, describing herself as a “child of American cinema” that she “watched as a kid”. The films were not dubbed. Her parents were actors. She remembers the intense experience of seeing “ET” when young. She “screamed” and “grabbed the seat in front”.   

To perfect her English, Cotillard saved her money pay for a month in New York of Berlitz “total immersion” in English.

Marion Cotillard at Telluride

Marion Cotillard at Telluride

 Cotillard read the screenplay of “Inception” five times. She described it as “very special.” she had “hundreds of questions”. She said writer/director Christopher Nolan is “so smart” and the film’s conception was ten years in his mind. It was a “different world” that the actors went into, needing a “special energy.” 

Because of her work on “The Dark Knight Rises”, Cotillard met director Jacques Audiard just two days before filming “Rust and Bone” and they didn’t talk about the character she would play. Portraying a “totally different character” was a “lot of fun”.

Marion Cotillard at Telluride

Marion Cotillard at Telluride

Director James Gray showed up at the Telluride tribute with a promising clip from his upcoming film with Cotillard dealing with emigrants from Ellis Island. Cotillard’s character is described as a Polish “low life”.

Cotillard’s “Rust and Bone” was then screened. The film opens with gritty realism as Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts, “Bullhead”) is hitchhiking with his young son. They later take leftover food from a bus while travelling to live with Ali’s sister in Antibes in the south of France. Working as a bouncer at a club, Ali meets Stephanie (Marion Cotillard) as she is being ejected. He gives her his phone number. 

Stephanie is a trainer at a Marineland-type park. An accident involving orca whales causes the stage to collapse. Stephanie’s legs are amputated. Cotillard gives another exceptional performance of raw intensity. The scene where her character wakes up, and with piercing pain and tears, realizes the extent of her injuries is memorable. Cotillard has recently been nominated for Best Actress from both Golden Globes and SAG. Stephanie impulsively calls Ali.

Marion Cotillard in "Rust and Bone"

Marion Cotillard in “Rust and Bone”

Ali has become active involved in violent kickboxing. He and Stephanie give each other a different kind of strength to help live their new lives. Ali loves his son, but is immature in watching out for him. “Rust and Bone” remains absorbing and forceful.

Director Jacques Audiard and his co-writer Thomas Bidegain combined separate characters form a short story collection “Rust and Bone” by Craig Davidson. The orca trainer was male in the short story. Audiard is a visual master. Varied scenes like the blazing sun reflected in the blue Mediterranean, and Stephanie with prosthetic legs reaching toward an orca behind glass are particularly striking.