Vie En Rose, La (USA; 82 min.)


directed by: Olivier Dahan
cast:
Marion Cotillard, Pascal Gregory, Sylvie Testud, Emmanuelle Seigner, Gérard Depardieu
La Môme
 

Bruce says: "Edith Piaf remains one of the all time great vocal stylists - a voice filled with great character and emotion, a voice that simultaneously reflects personal heartbreak and resilience. I became a big Piaf fan while still in my teens. Edith Piaf died on my 21st birthday which cast a pall on my celebration of attaining a legal drinking age; however, I fondly remember some drunken tributes throughout the evening. My favorite of her songs was and still is 'Les Mots d’Amour.' The lyrics of the song can be loosely translated as ''It is crazy how much I love you; I love you so much, were you ever to leave me, I’m sure I would die.’ These were the words he said to me. Then he left me. Now it is I who am saying these words to someone else.' These are the lyrics that, for me, most reflect Piaf’s troubled, wildly successful life.

"'Les Mots d’Amour' is not one of the Piaf songs featured in LA VIE EN ROSE and that is a red flag regarding the film’s focus. Instead of documenting Piaf’s many ups and downs, this biopic opts to seek out defining moments that explain her joy and misery. She had many lovers but the film focuses solely on the big, tragic love of her life, Marcel Cerdan, a married boxer she met while in New York. He died in a plane crash while on his way back from Europe to meet her in New York. She had two husbands one of whom is not even in the film. Her affair with Yves Montand is not mentioned nor does her professional relationship with Charles Aznavour get more than a nod; an actor playing Aznavour is listed in the credits but I do not recall any specific scenes which portrayed their unique relationship. Piaf’s early life in the unfashionable slums of Belleville is documented as is her short stay with her grandmother who ran a brothel in Normandy. The film also covers the period where as a young girl she traveled her father’s acrobatic act and later, when she began singing on the streets of Paris where she was discovered.

"Marion Cotillard saves the film with her wonderful performance that captures Piaf’s talent and fragility. Her body language is sensational and so are her make-up, hair styling and wardrobe. As a whole, however, the film is flawed. Scenes jump from one period of Piaf’s life to another, seemingly edited at random. At the very end of the film we are hit by the surprise that Piaf had a daughter who died of meningitis, a loss from which she never recovered. Why put a scene like that in a morphine reverie? It is made very clear that Piaf was addicted to drugs but not perfectly clear that she died from cancer. Some of the more beautiful scenes are the boxing scenes which unfortunately belong in a different movie. I did like the sequence where her impresario is teaching her how to sing more convincingly, 'You have to be a woman in love. You’re an actress.'

"Piaf deserves much, much more than what LA VIE EN ROSE has to offer. 2.5 cats"