Sunday, February 10, 2008

Cotillard Bitch-Slaps Christie at the BAFTAs

"For my next trick, I will star in a Zelda Rubinstein biopic."

Or, rather, BAFTA voters bitch-slapped Julie Christie by giving the Best Actress award most British journalists assumed was hers to Marion Cotillard for her work in La Vie en Rose. Cotillard's performance was indeed remarkable, more so than Christie's (the best acting in Away from Her belonged to Gordon Pinsent, and the lack of attention he received this award season has been regrettable to say the least), but that doesn't change the fact that I struggled to finish La Vie en Rose the way Paris Hilton struggles to finish "Green Eggs and Ham."

By the fifty-minute mark, it seemed that Cotillard's greatest triumph wasn't becoming Édith Piaf — and doing so in a way that caused an excitable Stephen Holden to write that her "feral portrait of the French singer Édith Piaf as a captive wild animal hurling herself at the bars of her cage is the most astonishing immersion of one performer into the body and soul of another I've ever encountered in a film" — but rather having the single-minded determination to slog all the way through director Olivier Dahan and Isabelle Sobelman's excruciatingly tedious screenplay. Which isn't to say that La Vie en Rose was not without its finer points, like wonderful supporting performances by Emmanuelle Seigner, who almost walked off with the film in its first twenty minutes, and the always dependable Sylvie Testud (a brilliant, relatively unknown actress who has quietly made a career of playing sexually unconventional, and often queer, characters) as Mômone, Piaf's cross-dressing lesbian BFF. Just don't expect me to revisit it unless I need help falling asleep.

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