VIE EN ROSE, LA
After a troubled childhood, Edith Piaf (Marion Cotillard) begins singing for money in the streets of Pigalle with her best friend Mômone (Sylvie Testud), where she is discovered by nightclub owner Louis Leplee (Gérard Dépardieu). Giving her the nickname Little Sparrow (La Môme Piaf), he also introduces her to all the right people including songwriter Marguerite Monnot (Marie-Armelle Deguy) and manager Louis Barrier (Pascal Greggory). Her love affair with married boxing champ Marcel Cedan (Jean-Pierre Martins) ends in tragedy and despite constant ill-health and a battle with booze and drugs, Piaf's unique voice and waif-like persona make her a star.
Review by Louise Keller:
I had goosebumps from the very first moment, when Marion Cotillard's Piaf stands centre stage in New York in 1959, singing from her soul. It's an extraordinary performance from an almost unrecognisable Cotillard, who literally becomes the damaged French songstress affectionately known as The Little Sparrow, in this potent bio-pic. Director Olivier Dahan takes us back and forth in time, through Piaf's early days as a sickly child to the heights of her musical success, even as she was challenged by failing health. Those who know and love the music of Edith Piaf will get the most out of this emotional powerhouse of a film, which catches us at our most vulnerable as we live through the minor and major keys of her volatile existence.
Edith Piaf literally 'lived the song' and her audience related not only with her uniquely powerful voice, but through the passion with which she sang. At 2 hours 20 minutes, the film is long, but even so, Dahan has only been able to include certain aspects of her life. Snippets of most of her well-loved songs such as Hymne a l'amour, La Foule and Les Amants d'un jour are inserted as background to emotional moments - to great effect. Her signature song La Vie En Rose, which is filled with romantic notions and hope, represents the happy times, when she meets the love of her life, married world boxing champ Marcel Cedan (Jean-Pierre Martins). These moments act as respite for the emotional density that cocoons the entire film. Just when we have sunk to the depths of despair as we suffer with Piaf through her trials and tribulations, Dahan jumps in time (somewhat clumsily) to another place and moment, when the mood swings like a pendulum to the other extreme.
Cotillard, with Piaf's trademark stoop, embodies the Little Sparrow with intensity; lip synch is near perfect as is the astonishing make up. All the cast is outstanding; Gérard Dépardieu as the man who discovers her, Sylvie Testud as best friend Mômone and rock musician Jean-Pierre Martins who plays Piaf's charming true love. Love is the most important thing throughout Piaf's tragic life: she yearns for it, sings about it and fleetingly captures it for one brief shining moment. When she sings No Regrets (Non, je ne regrette rien), I guarantee there will not be one dry eye.
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VIE EN ROSE, LA (M)
(France/UK/Czech Republic, 2007)
CAST: Marion Cotillard, Sylvie Testud, Pascal Greggory, Marc Barbé, Emmanuelle Seigner, Jean-Paul Rouve, Clotilde Courau, Caroline Sihol, Catherine Allégret, Gérard Depardieu
PRODUCER: Alain Goldman
DIRECTOR: Olivier Dahan
SCRIPT: Olivier Dahan, Isabelle Sobelman
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tetsuo Nagata
EDITOR: Richard Marizy
MUSIC: Christopher Gunning
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Olivier Raoux
RUNNING TIME: 140 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 12, 2007