There is a distinct difference between a movie star and a movie actor (the same could be said for any profession in Hollywood). Some movie actors are great, but don’t get the publicity they deserve (Viggo Mortensen, Sally Hawkins, for example). Then there are those who are movie stars but not the best of actors (I won’t name names here and get into an argument). Then there are those few who can be a movie star, and show acting chops like no other (Daniel Day-Lewis, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Al Pacino, to name a few). One of my favorite actresses working today is Marion Cotillard, who definitely falls into the latter category.
Like many, I became a fan the first time I saw her in her (much deserved) Oscar winning role in La Vie en Rose. She then went on in other blockbusters such as Inception and The Dark Knight Rises, lesser known films like Rust and Bone, and even a brief (yet brilliant) cameo in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. Her most recent movie (which she was also nominated for an Oscar) has her star as Sandra. She is a loving wife and mother of two. She recently found out she may be laid off at work. A vote was taken: Do the workers want to keep her on the team, or let go of her for a bonus. The film starts off with the results in favor of the Bonus, but her boss has intimidated the workers to go for the bonus. Sandra is able to get a second voting to take place, and the rest of the movie is nothing more than her asking each of her co workers to reconsider keeping her on the job.
You may think the movie sounds boring, or too slow, and you would be half right. It is slow but not boring (at least at most times). The key factor is Cotillard. She plays Sandra as if she were a flower in a windy field, and her stem is just about broken. She can cry at a moments notice without any effort. The movie uses a lot of close-ups of character reactions (not just Sandra).We learn about her past behavior, and begin to love the relationship she has with her very caring husband Manu (Fabrizio Rongione). It is sublime acting all around in this film.
There also seems to be a theme of separation between Sandra and the co workers she visits. Look in the background, and you find something that seems to be splitting Sandra and her co workers as she wishes for them to reconsider.
Parents, I highly doubt your kids would find this interesting. Still, in case they do, there is nothing more than some swearing and thematic issues. Anyone middle school and older would be fine, and I would advise it to anyone who wants to know what great movie acting looks like.
Overall: Four Stars ****