Les Petits Mouchoirs, the new Guillaume Canet film featuring Marion Cotillard, could well be retitled Le Grand Froid – assuming that’s correct French for The Big Chill. Like Laurence Kasdan’s early 80s classic, the latest from this super-French actor-slash-director is about old friends reunited in a vacation house after and despite a tragic event – passions are played-out, and so is excellent music; friendships are tested, and proved true. Love wins. See what we mean? It's the same. Steal an idea and confess to it, however, and it becomes not theft but homage. Canet pays it well. Obsessed with not only The Big Chill, but also John Cassavetes films such as Husbands, he creates messy,intimate atmospheres with long shots and single, often improvised takes. Little White Lies, as it’s called in English, is naturalistic and gutsy, long (okay, a bit too long) and meandering, with genuine surprises around the bends. The best of these is Cotillard herself, whom most know as the tragic heroine or the Dior beauty icon. In person, and in this film, she’s much softer and funnier – though no less beautiful. At the Toronto International Film Festival, Cotillard sat down with Canet and her costar Gilles Larouche to speak with an entranced handful of journalists. Here she tells no lies (we hope) about her character, her work, and a very little about herself.
Marion Cottilard on Little White Lies:
The most important thing is to forget that you actually act, and really feel this authenticity that you want to feel when you work. When you have this connection between all the actors, it doesn’t take a long time.... We worked all together on our characters. It’s a very different dynamic when you work with people you’ve known for years. Sometimes it makes things easier. But sometimes you get shy doing scenes with people you've known for a long time, you know.
I try to be honest in my life, I try to be honest with myself, I try to be honest with others. It takes courage to realise that sometimes you lie to yourself and sometimes you’re not even aware of it to yourself. And a certain event will wake you up, or you will just grow up, your priorities are not the same anymore, and then you see something that you haven’t seen before.
My character tries to escape her dark side. When you’ve gone through things in your life and you stay away from what is created inside of you, the fears that come from, well, your childhood come through. And she wants to know how human beings work, so she’s an anthropologist and she goes all over the world to try to understand human beings and, in a way, she’s totally escaping the human being she is. More than love, she’s looking for protection, because she’s totally lost. She has her friends but she’s kind of secretive. In a way, she kind of lives in the past, and the protection she thought she had once, it disappeared and happened to be very weak... that’s all she searches for. It was love, at first, but then it was protection. My character and I, I think at a certain point in my life – we had things in common: not being able to settle down, not being able to face my inner disaster.
When I was young, I watched a lot of American movies, because I wanted to be an actress, not because I had this dream to go be in Hollywood or something, but because my dream was just to be an actress, to tell stories. But then, American movies were part of how I created my imagination. The first time I remember crying like a crazy kid is when I saw E.T. in a theatre. I was up on my feet crying, and all the people were telling my mother, get her out!