Jose here. It's that time of year when I start begging everyone to give Marion Cotillard awards, this time around I think she's Best Actress material in The Immigrant which recently played at the New York Film Festival.
In the film, Cotillard plays Ewa Cybulski, a young woman who arrives in 1921 New York City, escaping the violence in her native Poland. Her American dream is instantly shattered when her sister (Angela Sarafyan) is left at the Ellis Island infirmary and Ewa begins a destructive relationship with entertainer/pimp Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix) who forces her into prostitution in order to rescue her sister and avoid deportation.
If you're thinking this sounds like a soap opera, it's precisely because director James Gray was aiming for an old fashioned melodrama, as established at a press conference during the festival.
Cotillard delivers yet another flawless performance as she is able to convey a sense of innocence we rarely see in movies nowadays. Watching her light up the screen made me think that if The Immigrant had been done in the 1940's, Ewa would've probably been played by Ingrid Bergman. The actress flows seamlessly between broken English and seemingly fluent Polish, which lead to the director addresing why he cast her and not a Polish actress in the part,
I'm a little out of touch with movies and I did not know who Marion Cotillard was. I had become friendly with her boyfriend and we went out to dinner in Paris and I met her. I started arguing about an actor who she loved and I though was overrated, so she threw a piece of bread at my head and she mentioned she thought I was a jerk. I immediately liked her as a result.
Cotillard looks radiant in the film and besides recalling Bergman, Giulietta Masina (mostly because of the film's structure) and Jennifer Jones in The Song of Bernadette.
Gray confessed she reminded him of someone else:
[Marion] has a great face, not only physically beautiful, which she is, but she's like a silent film actress, she reminded me of Falconetti, very able to convey depth of emotion without dialogue, so I wrote the movie for her and if she [and Joaquin] hadn't been in it, I probably wouldn't have made it.
The Immigrant's release plans are still cloudy but whenever it does open, Marion better be in the Oscar discussion.