The Fragile yet Indomitable Little Street Sparrow: Édith Piaf in Fragments
Nov 17, 2007
That 'La Môme' AKA 'La Vie En Rose' is a triumph for actress Marion Cotillard who manages to inhabit the persona of Édith Piaf is a given. This is a powerful, deeply moving tribute to a musical phenomenon whose impact on the world remains as heady as during her short lifetime (December 19, 1915-October 11, 1963). She remains a French icon but her singing and her life belong to the world: who can resist her "poignant ballads performed in a heartbreaking voice", the result of her life as an unwanted child, raised in a brothel, starting her career as a street singer with her circus contortionist father only to be discovered and given the opportunity to sing in a cabaret, a move that brought her to the attention of the world and made her one of the most sought after singers on the world's stages? No matter the degree of involvement in music, everyone has heard and reacted to her most famous songs 'La vie en rose', 'Hymne à l'amour', 'Milord', ' and of course her signature song 'Non, je ne regrette rien'.
Writer/director Olivier Dahan (with assist from Isabelle Sobelman) has elected to present Piaf's impact on the world not as a linear biopic but rather as fragments from her existence as a child protected in a brothel by prostitute Titine (Emmanuelle Seigner), her life as a street singer with her pal Mômone (Sylvie Testud), her 'discovery' by Louis Leplée (Gérard Depardieu), her descent into alcoholism and drug addiction after the loss of the love of her life - a married boxer Marcel Cerdan (Jean-Pierre Martins), and her eventual fame in New York. Oddly the impact she had on the French people during World War II is ignored and there are other large chunks of her life story that are missing. But in the end the fragments we are given allow us to empathize and understand the persona of Édith Piaf, and that makes any other misgiving irrelevant.
Devan obviously found the perfect actress in Marion Cotillard ('A Very Long Engagement', 'A Good Life', 'Pretty Things', etc) whose immersion in the role is breathtakingly brilliant. The feature accompanying the film on the DVD (already 141 minutes in length!) allows us to see and hear the manner in which Devan and Cotillard recreated Piaf in makeup, costume, body language and of course impeccable lip-syncing of Piaf's songs. This is a film that lingers in the mind not only as a memory of a great artist but also as a reminder of how even the most broken of spirits can survive and succeed. Stunning! Grady Harp, November 07
The story of France's most beloved singer begins in 1918 in a squalid section of Paris. Little Edith is abandoned by her parents and goes to live in her grandmother's brothel. There, she becomes blind from an eye disease and is cared for by the prostitutes. When she recovers her sight, she is forced to join her father as a street performer. Her remarkable singing voice is noticed by a night club manager and she begins her meteoric climb to success, but it is tempered by a series of personal tragedies. … more
This movie is based on the life of the famous French singer Edith Piaf, and will drain you emotionally and physically (if you're not one for long periods of sitting still) Short Attention Span Summary (SASS): 1. Little Edith has a hard knock life with her mother, and eventually is "rescued" by her father, and taken to live with her grandmother 2. Grandma's girls (and clients) call her "Madame" 3. She is taken under … more
My knowledge of Edith Piaf extends to a few of her songs played many times over the years on the local classical FM station's once a week show of folk and other music. I knew nothing of her life. "La Vie En Rose" with its dizzying flashbacks and flashforwards and cutaways doesn't really tell me much I wanted to know about Piaf. She led a tragic life of abandonment as a child, alcoholism, drug addiction, cripping arthritis, several marriages, many lovers, a lost child and … more
Pros: Marion Cotillard's performance Cons: The narrative was too fractured and random to bother trying to piece back together The Bottom Line: Without an actress as strong as Mme Cotillard, the film would have been unbearably confusing if not just totally dull. Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. Susan Sontag wrote an essay called “Illness as Metaphor” it was … more
Just like the singer herself, `La Vie en Rose' is a magical and vivacious entertainment. Edith Piaf (Marion Cotillard) had two things in life that she treasured: love and singing. This Biopic French movie deftly hop-scotches between several time frames, giving us a composite of her life. Rose had to grow up quickly and early, for custody was an unstable affair where she could be brought up by her mother, a street singer; her father, a circus performer; or her grandmother, … more
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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According to Marlene Dietrich, chanteuse Edith Piaf's voice was "the soul of Paris." This French drama explores the often troubled life of the singer as her fame took her from the City of Lights to America to the South of France. Abandoned by her mother, Piaf grew up in her grandmother's brothel and her father's circus, which is hardly the fun one might imagine. While singing on the streets of Paris as a teen, Piaf (played as an adult by Marion Cotillard, A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT) is discovered by club owner Louis Leplie (Gerard Depardieu), and this chance encounter changes the woman's life. Her powerful voice takes her all over the globe, but it can't guard her from the pain and suffering she can't avoid.
As Piaf, Cotillard is mesmerizing. She fully inhabits the singer's ivory skin, crafting a character that never descends into caricature or camp. She lip syncs to Piaf's legendary voice, but the performance is seamless. Like WALK THE LINE and RAY, this biopic creates a fascinating picture of ...
Edith Piaf is the subject ofLa Vie en Rose, director Olivier Dahan's powerful if emotionally redundant biographical film about the iconic French superstar whose life, as depicted here, seems to have been a numbing succession of tragedies interrupted on occasion by artistic triumph. Dahan's portrait begins with Piaf's stay in a brothel as a young girl. Left to the care of her grandmother (who runs the place) after her father pulls ...