Release Date: June 8th, 2007 (Angelika Film Center, Clearview Chelsea and the Paris Theatre) by Picturehouse.
The Cast: Marion Cotillard, Sylvie Testud, Pascal Greggory, Emmanuelle Seigner, Gerard Depardieu, Clotilde Courau, Manon Chevallier, Pauline Burlet, Jean-Paul Rouve, Jean-Pierre Martins.
Directed by Olivier Dahan.
In French with subtitles.
BASIC PREMISE: Édith Piaf (Cotillard) escapes a life of poverty and rises to fame as a French singer.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: La Vie en Rose boasts a breakthrough performance by Marion Cotillard as Édith Piaf. She sinks into her role with utter conviction which helps to keep you thoroughly absorbed and captivated. The plot begins in 1959 when Piaf has reached the peak of her fame and then flashbacks to her troubled childhood full of poverty in Belleville. After spending time with her godmother, the young Édith (Chevallier) moves into a bordello where her mother works at and befriends one of the prostitutes (Seigner). Édith (Burlet), at the age of 10, starts developing a passion for music while singing on the street while her father (Rouve) entertains street crowds with his contortions. A decade later, she has a best friend (Testud) and meets a nightclub owner (Depardieu) who helps her to find venues to sing while nicknaming her “The Little Sparrow”. The rest of the plot follows her rise to fame along with her romantic relationship with a boxer, Marcel (Martins). Eventually, she becomes a drug addict and dies at the age of 47. Co-writer/director Olivier Dahan allows the plot to jump back and forth from childhood scenes to scenes from her tragic illness at the end of her life and to her years of fame. This non-linear structure feels awkward and distracting at first, but, once you get used to it, it doesn’t really affect the flow plot—although it diminishes any suspense for those who don’t know about Édith’s life. The make-up and costume design practically transforms Marion Cotillard into Édith Piaf, especially during the musical numbers, which Cotillard lip syncs. Fortunately, Dahan does a great job of blending the musical numbers without taking away from the intensity drama. The real triumph here, though, is Cotillard’s unforgettable, Oscar-worthy performance that will leave you in awe from start to finish.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: All of the musical numbers are filled with so much emotion that it’s difficult not to be moved. Watching Édith Piaf suffer during her childing and during her last moments before her death are particularly heartbreaking and will leave you in tears, especially if you’re an avid fan of her and her music.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 0
IN A NUTSHELL: Mesmerizing. A heartbreaking and captivating biopic. It has Oscar written all over it. Marion Cotillard gives a breakthrough, triumphant performance.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater.
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