Two days, one night: a Marion Cotillard showcase

Are you an art-house guru? Are you familiar with the work of Belgian filmmaker brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne? If the answer is no then you’re like me and will come to this film with no expectation. I like Marion Cotillard and like the idea of her – one of France’s most glamorous actresses working today – stripped back in some sort of gritty, kitchen sink drama.


And in the Dardennes brothers, she’s got the perfect sort of directors. This is the type of film that I imagine will wow the critics and have them raving about Marion’s performance which, I’d agree, is an impressive one; nuanced, raw and affecting. But it didn’t grab me, I didn’t engage with the characters. More on that shortly.

The premise of this film is simple. Marion plays working mum Sandra, a woman grappling with depression and faced with the prospect of losing her job so that her coworkers can receive their bonuses. She has two days and one night (i.e. the weekend and the film’s title) to convince them to vote for her to stay and, if they do, give up their bonuses as a result.


With each colleague she visits she tells the same story. Where the film lives or dies, in terms of what you get out of it, is in the reactions she receives from each of her colleagues and how she responds. Each positive meeting gives her a tiny ray of hope, each negative one sends her spiralling back towards depression.

For an actress that can effortlessly do glamour in big budget Hollywood films such as Inception, Midnight in Paris and Public Enemies, to see Marion laid bare in this manner is rather refreshing. That said, her character is tough to like and difficult to engage with on an emotional level.


Her long-suffering husband is where our sympathies probably end up. With each setback she faces she shuts down, blocking off friends and family, expecting the inevitable outcome. The constant rock at her side is her husband Manu, played in a no-nonsense manner by Belgian actor Fabrizio Rongione.

Perhaps this is the sort of film that you need to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy. I say enjoy, it’s a sad tale for the most part. Marion, as you’d expect, delivers a thoroughly impressive performance and, if you’re a fan of her work, it’s one you should see. Just be aware of the type of film you’re going to see and you’ll no doubt get something out of it.

Ooh la la… my cinematic French fancies!

swimming-pool-2003-08-gThere’s a certain indefinable something about the modern-day French actress. Ok, sorry, it’s a lazy line even without saying it. However, the point stands. The appeal is hard to pinpoint but it’s undoubtedly there.

Is it just the sexy accent? Or the fact we’re – well, most of us – drawn to the exotic? We all like a bit of mystery. And acting wise, these ladies deliver that effortlessly, hypnotically luring us in like the sexy sirens they are. You have been warned.

Let’s start with the newcomers. The first two are both in the same film, yet really should get a special nod for their committed and naturalistic performances. Breakout performances too, as they’re both now on many people’s radars. Then we have another breakout performance, this time from Ms. Thierry in Terry Gilliam’s latest mind-bending dystopian offering.

Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopolous
Blue Is The Warmest Colour

Melanie Thierry

The Zero Theorem

Next up are the mid-range ladies. They pop up from time to time, often in scene stealing fashion. Either by being impossibly cute, seductive, beguiling, or all three rolled into one.

Ludivine Sagnier
Swimming Pool, Mesrine: Killer Instinct/Public Enemy #1

Clemence Poesy

In Bruges, Birdsong, Harry Potter

Melanie Laurent

Inglourious Basterds, Now You See Me

And then there’s the heavy hitters. In recent years two ladies have to share top spot; both are deadly, unpredictable, enchanting and really quite brilliant at what they do. Both hold the screen incredibly well and have film CVs that range from blockbusters to sweet little indies.

In terms of an impressive body of work over a longer time period, you’d have to give the title to Marion. However, there’s something enigmatic and downright dangerous about Eva and the way she portrays characters. As such, I’m calling this an admirable draw.

Eva Green
The Dreamers, Casino Royale, Cracks, Dark Shadows, 300: Rise of an Empire. Next up? Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, Penny Dreadful.

Marion Cotillard

Taxi, La Vie En Rose, Public Enemies, Inception, Little White Lies, Midnight in Paris, Rust and Bone, The Dark Knight Rises. Next up? The Immigrant.

For my list I’ve really only looked at modern actresses, so no Bridget Bardot, Sophie Marceau, Beatrice Dalle and those of a similar time. So what do you think? Did I miss anyone? Thoughts on these ladies?

Until next time.