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.

Who are the top 20 most intense actors of recent times?

charlie bronson

I do like an intense character and performance when I’m watching a film. Someone who literally rivets and welds you to the screen, look away at your peril. Some people probably like their films bright and breezy. I don’t mind those too, but there’s something about intensity that leaves a lasting impression. You remember those performances.

As such I thought I’d offer a couple of lists of actors and actresses that have had me mesmerised, entranced and – at times – a little frightened. I’ve most likely left off a lot of vintage performances and characters, but this is MY list so I’m allowed. Let me know your thoughts. Who would you have liked to have seen included?

In these lists I’ve put links to clips from some performances you might not have seen before, or maybe just want to revisit. Remember though, best not watch alone though, these lot are intense!

The guys

  1. charlie bronsonDaniel Day Lewis (Bill ‘the Butcher’ Cutting, Gangs of New York; Daniel Plainview, There will be Blood)
  2. Heath Ledger (The Joker, The Dark Knight)
  3. Tom Hardy (Charles Bronson, Bronson)
  4. Christian Bale (Patrick Bateman, American Psycho; Batman, The Batman Trilogy)
  5. Kevin Spacey (John Doe, Seven)
  6. Christopher Walken (Vicenzo Carcotti, True Romance; Frank White, King of New York)
  7. Javier Bardem (Anton Chigurh, No Country for Old Men)
  8. Christopher Waltz (Col. Hans Landa, Inglourious Basterds)
  9. Vincent Cassel (Jacques Mesrine, Mesrine)
  10. Liam Neeson (Bryan Mills, Taken)
  11. Jeremy Renner (Sergeant William James, The Hurt Locker; Jem Coughlin, The Town)
  12. Gary Oldman (Drexel, True Romance)

The gals

  1. helena bonham carter harry potterHelena Bonham Carter (Red Queen, Alice in Wonderland; Bellatrix Lestrange, Harry Potter)
  2. Cate Blanchett (Galadriel, Lord of the Rings)
  3. Marion Cotillard (Mal, Inception)
  4. Angelina Jolie (Lisa Rowe, Girl, Interrupted)
  5. Melanie Laurent (Shosanna Dreyfus, Inglourious Basterds)
  6. Charlize Theron (Aileen Wuornos, Monster)
  7. Famke Janssen (Xena Onotopp, Goldeneye; Jean Grey, Xmen: The Last Stand)
  8. Noomi Rapace (Lisbeth Salander, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

So, there’s my list. You’ll notice there’s more men than women, I’m not sure why. I think, perhaps, there’s a tendency – particularly in Hollywood – for studios to shy away from films with intense, female leads. I wonder if they are more of a risk commercially? I don’t think that’s the case. I think it’s more to do with a lack of decent scripts for women, ones that don’t play to stereotypes.

One thing I’ve noticed is how top actors portray intensity – for me – it’s in the eyes. I think it’s what separates great actors and actresses from the rest. If you allow yourself to be drawn into their gaze, there’s so much depth there. Depending on the character they’re playing, it can be equally exciting, captivating and terrifying. Watch Pacino in The Godfather, making the decision to kill with his eyes. A lesson in intensity.

Right, I need to go watch some comedy now to level out. It’s all got too much. I’ll finish with artwork of Marion Cotillard, not because it’s intense, but because it’s simply beautiful – and that’s all the reason you need.

Marion Cotillard artwork