Anyone familiar with the life of Edith Piaf knows that her life was full of hardship and tragedy. The passion she poured into her songs was equal to, if not greater than, her magnificent voice.
The movie La Vie en Rose (originally titled La Môme) is the most emotionally intense film I’ve watched in years. Actress Marion Cotillard’s monumental tour de force as Piaf is astonishing, enthralling, and heartbreaking.
In addition to the cast of excellent actors (is there a French film that doesn’t have Depardieu in it?), the sets, locations, and costumes are perfect and further envelop you in the atmosphere.
The only misgivings that I have about the script is that it ignores the period of Piaf’s life when she was not a victim, during World War II. Additionally, in spite of the cinematic Piaf’s protestations that the Americans “don’t get me, and I don’t get them”, in the film (and in life) she spent substantial part of her life working in the US, where she was a huge success in both coasts.
I immediately liked the character of Marcel Cerdan (played by the very handsome Jean-Pierre Martins, who actually has a boxer’s physique), the boxer who was the love of Piaf’s life. Unlike Piaf’s character, in the film he “gets” Americans and takes her to a diner for a pastrami sandwich on their first date. Like “ugly Americans” who ask for ketchup when eating in France, Piaf pushes away the pastrami and insists on going to a French restaurant. Marcel obliges, and jokingly orders a hot pastrami there, too – definitely, my kind of guy.
In spite of my misgivings, from the musical standpoint this film is a great tribute to one of the most influential singers of the 20th Century.
Bring a lot of Kleenex, and leave the kids at home: the movie’s R-rated for sexual situations, violence, drug use, and language.
French with English subtitles. Those not familiar with street French will probably rely on the subtitles for the first half of the film.