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418 of 427 people found the following review helpful
Don't plan to see this film and then go out for a lively night on the town. You will be so spent after the one hundred forty-one minutes of this gut-wrenching film that when the lights come on at the end, you'll need a minute to figure out where you are, and then additional downtime to process all you've seen. Days later, you'll still be thinking about this slice of life--and Edith Piaf.

Piaf's story is well known to her long-time fans--brought up in a brothel, wrested from the only life she knew by her father so they could join the circus, her teen years on the streets, her "rescue" by a crime figure who gave her the start to her career, and, ultimately, her international success and final illness. She was always frail, sickly, malnourished, and wildly temperamental. She was often on drugs or alcohol, and she was always in search of true love (not finding it till late in her life). All this is depicted here with its horrors and its rare moments of tenderness, the cinematography (Tetsuo Nagata) so brilliant that the realistic, dark settings invite the reader's emotional entry into them and exploration of them.

Marion Cotillard becomes Piaf, a physical likeness that is uncanny in its realism (one wonders if she can ever play another part without conjuring up Piaf's image), and her emotional connection to Piaf's music is total. Her song performances are absolutely flawless, as are her gestures, and the only clue that she is lip-synching is the unmistakable Piaf voice the emerges from her mouth. Louis Leplee (Gerard Depardieu) as the nightclub owner whose murder by organized crime draws Edith in for questioning, shows the genuine care he has for Edith and the tough face of a man who has seen and done it all.

Marcel Cerdan, the middleweight boxer who captures her heart (Jean-Pierre Martins), gives her something to live for, besides her music--at least for a while--and it is genuinely affecting here to see how earthy and unaffected he is in her presence. The supporting actors, all French, are outstanding, and few viewers will forget Emmanuelle Seigner, playing prostitute Titine, who cared for Edith as a child.

The film belongs to Cotillard, however, and all aspects of the film, from the brilliant writing of Olivier Dahan (who also directed) and Isabelle Sobelman, to film editing (especially the lip-synching to Piaf's songs), and the sets, costuming, and makeup, are designed to enhance her performance. The film follows no chronology, jumping from her childhood to her last years and then to some of the high points of her career, creating an impressionistic film of some of the signal moments in her life. It is difficult to imagine any biopic that will ever come close to this one in its power, but then, again, it's difficult to imagine any singer who will ever capture the world's imagination in quite the way that Piaf did. n Mary Whipple
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233 of 245 people found the following review helpful
I wouldn't be comfortable calling La Vie en Rose (La Mome), the life of Edith Piaf, one of the great biographical films until I have a chance to see it once or twice more. What I'm sure of is that Marion Cotillard's portrayal of Piaf from Piaf's early teens until Piaf died at 47 is one of the most extraordinary performances I've ever seen on a movie screen. Piaf had an extraordinary life, was an extraordinary personality as well as being perhaps France's greatest singer. Cotillard simply remakes herself into this willful, self-destructive, selfish, generous, melodramatic, tiny creature -- Piaf was only 4' 8" tall -- of dramatic vocal genius.

Piaf grew up on the streets of Paris. Her life was one crises after another, some of her making, some not. We meet her as a child, when her mother abandoned her. Her father, a soldier in WWI and a contortionist in small traveling circuses, disappeared for long period of time. At one point before puberty she lived for quite a while with her paternal grandmother, who ran a brothel. She helped her father work at one of those circuses. They survived as street entertainers in Paris. She finally had enough and struck out on her own, making a little money singing on the streets, giving much of it to a local pimp for protection. She had a child who died of meningitis. When she was 20 she was discovered by an "impresario" who ran a nightclub. Louis Leplee renamed her Piaf. When he was murdered in what seemed to be a gang hit, she was put through the public wringer by the police and the French press. Her fame grew. During WWII she agreed to sing at POW camps so the French prisoners could be photographed with Piaf by the Germans as evidence of how happy the prisoners were. Piaf was a member of the Resistance. She took copies of the photographs and arranged for the Resistance to make false passports for 150 prisoners. She returned to the camps with the passports and managed to have them distributed to the prisoners under the eyes of the Germans. She was either fearless or willfully fatalistic. The Germans never seemed to realize what this tiny, internationally known singer was doing. After the war, she was acclaimed. She had famous love affairs, including Yves Montand and French middleweight boxer Marcel Cerdan. Cerdan, whom she loved, was killed in a plane crash. She drank heavily, took drugs, and her health continued to deteriorate. She suffered from rheumatism, severe arthritis, a liver that barely functioned. She became addicted to morphine and continued to drink heavily.

And she sang and sang and sang. She could make a child's jump-rope song sound like an obsession to lost love. Piaf had a big voice and she knew how to use it. She preferred simple black dresses and a spotlight when she performed, creating a highly dramatic image of this small, sad face and her two expressive hands. Her songs were about love, loss, death, memories, hope that was glimmering and hope that had died. She had a vibrato that seemed to throb in the heart. When she died at 47, the drink and the drugs, the losses and tragedies, the self-destructive willfulness and the arthritis had turned her into the ruined shell of the teen-ager who sang on Paris streets. Not a life I would have wanted, even if I'd traded for her talent, but it was her life and it became a huge melodrama powered by her unique voice.

For Americans, perhaps her most familiar song is La Vie En Rose. With Mack David's soppy lyrics, there was a time when it couldn't be avoided, including Piaf's French version. But the song that evokes the most memories, and the one that closes the movie and summarizes her life, is the song Piaf first sang just three years before her death, "Non, je ne regrette rien."

Non, rien de rien,
Non, je ne regrette rien,
Ni le bien qu'on m'a fait,
Ni le mal, tout ça m'est bien égal.
Non, rien de rien,
Non, je ne regrette rien,
C'est payé, balayé, oublié,
Je me fous du passé...

The song roughly translates as "I don't regret a thing. What has happened has happened and has been paid for. Neither the good done to me, nor the bad;
to me, they're all the same. No, I regret nothing. Because my life, because my joys, today, begin with you."

The movie La Vie en Rose is dramatically and almost lushly photographed. We don't have a simple linear story line; we keep moving back and forth among the times of her life. The juxtapositions between the child, the girl, the young woman, the star, the prematurely aged force of talent and willfulness, makes us need to pay attention but it also gives us some idea of the chaos of her life. Marion Cotillard is incredible as she makes us believe in this self-destructive and fascinating person. We really forget about Cotillard and can only focus on this tiny body, big voice and an odd, appealing face made up of huge eyes, blood red lips, and plucked, thin-lined eye-brows.

Personally, self-destruction after awhile makes me impatient and irritated. There are too many things to do to waste one's life on a diet of willfulness and selfishness, even if one is gifted with huge talent. I was mesmerized by Piaf, her life and her songs, but at times I felt like telling her to ease up on the drama. I suppose, given her life, much should be forgiven or at least understood. As Roger Ebert has said, "Nothing in her early life taught her to count on permanence or loyalty. What she counted on was singing, champagne, infatuation and morphine." La Vie en Rose is a movie well worth seeing.
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80 of 85 people found the following review helpful
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 the wing of Titine, one of the girls, and learns about song and prayer
4. Dad returns and decides that he will be the stable influence in her life
5. ... so he raises her in a circus where he's a contortionist
6. Soon she's singing for her supper and hitting the bottle
7. ...and the needle
8. ... and continues to do so, stubborn as a mule, ruining her health
9. ... while singing her heart out

From the streets to the brothel, from the circus to the streets, from the streets to the clubs, through bad patches and bubbly heights, culminating in a passionate love affair and the inevitable decline, the viewer will love, hate and pity the temperamental singer, though not necessarily in that order.

Although not my type of music, and given that I normally shy away from long dramatic movies, there's no escaping the fact that Marion Cotillard gives an absolutely magnificent performance. The supporting actors, the settings and the cinematography make this a memorable watching experience.

This is not a movie to brighten your day, lift your spirits or make your heart soar, but if you asked me if I regret watching it, I'd have to say "Non, je ne regrette rien".

Amanda Richards, August 3, 2008
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2007
This movie is excellent! But what happened to the subtitles for the songs? I saw this movie twice at the theatres, and there were subtitles for the songs. On the DVD, there is no subtitles. Especially, the last song "Non, je ne regrette rien", without knowing what the meaning of this song is, you can not appreciate the ending of this movie. I wonder if my DVD is defective?
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
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
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2007
As usual, I don't have a lot to add to the exceptional reviews already entered. Some local critics have had problems with the format of the film. All I can say is, "don't forget to bring your brain the next time you see it". Some have nitpicked about skipping over the Aznavour and Montand affairs. Go ahead and add them, as far as I'm concerned. When the film ended over two hours later my first thought was that I wanted more, lots more. But the director had more than made his point by the end of the 2+ hour film.Her affair with Marcel Cerdan, the great love of her life, was sufficient for me.

True, the film was all over the place with views of her life. This approach allowed the director to show aspects of her life and their derivation and consequences.I really liked this approach as it helped me see more deeply into Piaf's life.It was heartbreaking to see where her 47 years had finally taken her.

Marion Coutillard's performance is simply staggering. She must have channeled Piaf's soul and/or her spirit. For a while I felt almost like a voyeur, secretly spying on Piaf as if I were a fly on her walls. I got over that part but not the feeling that Piaf was either on the screen or in the room. For many years, when someone asked me about my all-time favorite performance I always said, "Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull. After my first viewing I could only say I wasn't so sure anymore. After seeing the film 4 times I have to place Coutillard at the top of my list. She was simply astonishing.

Here's a woman who had done some very good work prior to being selected to star as France's number one icon of the 20th century (I'm leaving out pols and war heroes). That's a mighty great person she's to represent. Think of the responsibility. Imagine the microscope she would be put under by her fellow countrymen, not to mention herself. I don't know how long she studied for the part, but all her work really paid off. This was a perfect performance.

Cotillard portrayed Piaf as a teen all the way to her dying day. No part of her life was done less perfectly than any other, She was the beautiful teenager with the biggest, most expressive eyes I've ever seen. She was Piaf toward the end of her life, her body having been terrorized by her incessant drinking and morphine use, her back terribly deformed by osteoperosis and still being able to deliver a performance that dazzled the sellout house at the Olympia.

The portrayal of Piaf is all the more amazing when you consider Coutillard is 11 inches taller than Piaf. What a great job by Coutillard, the director and the cinemaphotographer. I never once perceived her as anything but little. I also haven't seen such a perfect job of lip-syncing. Even actual singers of their own songs look like they're doing it, but not Coutillard.

This is a film everyone should see. Most Americans know little about Piaf and this will take care of that. I went out and bought a three-CD CD album of her music and I don't understand a word of French, but what a voice! But the most important reason is to see how exceptional an acting job was done by Marion Coutillard. I'm in agreement with another reviewer who says If she doesn't win the Oscar there's no justice. As far as I'm concerned, the academy should put her on the list and then figure, "Why bother with the other four? There's no way someone could vote for anyone else after seeing this film". I would give Marion Coutillard ten stars if it was possible.
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55 of 65 people found the following review helpful
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, Titune, who resided at a brothel. The breaks are few and far between. Later, hitting the street with friend, Simone, they make ends meet in the thirties as street singers getting tips in a wealthy Paris neighborhood. Misfortunes mix with her rise as a singing sensation, but she finds solace with her music and her champagne. As a respite she has a torrid, yet tender affair with Marcel, a Morrocan boxer and pig farmer, who makes her an adulterous interest.

Featuring an expert portrayal by Cotillard, the movie has a stature and fluidity of an epic. Before the film gets too heavy handed with heartache, there are captivating scenes that resonate with the glory and glamour of her art, especially showing the spell she casts on her audience. There's no question that if this movie was made in America, it would be a Best Film Oscar contender.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 15, 2008
Marion Cotillard won a well-deserved Oscar for her remarkable performance as French singer Édith Piaf (1915-63) - whose life was triumph and tragedy intertwined. Director Olivier Dahan sidesteps the usual biopic clichés by focusing on the heart and soul of this unique artist. The film's fragmented structure works better than expected. Highlighted by several Piaf classics, "La Vie en Rose" is a must-see.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 10, 2007
I have to admit I knew little about Edith Piaf before this movie, even that her nom de plume was that of "the sparrow." So, much of her fascinating story was new to me. What I liked most was the unconventional way in which Olivier Dahan presented her story, told in a series of recollections which became increasingly disjointed as Edith's life began to fall apart. This might be hard for some to follow, as Dahan moves back and forth in time and between concerts to present various aspects of her life. The most charming and poignant scenes were of her relationship to the great French prizefighter, Marcel Cerdan. This had a tremendous impact on her life and was reflected in her singing, as all her experiences were. Piaf touched virtually everyone with the way she sang from deep in the heart, belying her tiny presence. Comparisons to Billie Holiday are made. Marion Cotillard makes no attempt to sing the songs, but she captures the essence of Piaf, taking the role deep to her heart much the way Salma Hayek did with Frida. It is a very moving tribute to the beloved French singer, from her gritty beginning on the streets of Paris to her grand finale at the Olympia.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Wow! Where to start?

First, I guess, would be Kudos to director Olivier Dahan and all involved in the production and crafting of this wonderful film in reflection of the life of the Great Piaf! It is truly thrilling to see a young director pick a subject like this and do the Great Lady justice with his "insight", "love", and "conviction" to telling her story in a "truthfully convincing" way.

While many seem to feel that the film is too "confusing" with all the juxtaposed pieces presented as they are, I find them to be wrong! First, it is a stroke of genius to present her story this way...after all, her life WAS kaleidoscopic, and this wonderful "tool" of the director/editor(s) helps to show the confused/conflicted aspect of Piaf's life. Long have I been a devoted "fan" of Piaf, remembering her New York performances of '59 when I was a small boy...I was captivated by this tiny lady and helplessly drawn to her by her singing. Later, I would find the same thing with another great lady, Mlle. Callas, who had this same "magic" that one could not resist! I have read many biographies of Piaf, so I am familiar with her life forwards and backwards, and the people who have crafted this great "view" of her life have truly captured the honest "feel" for what her life was...and was not.

What a wonderful thing to see an "unknown" like Marion Cotillard receive this fabulous role, and to simply "blow the doors off" doing it! She becomes Piaf! I am sure, of course, that what we get is an overall "feel" in general of Piaf, but it is done with such conviction that one truly feels they are looking at Piaf, suffering with Piaf, truly experiencing Piaf! Also, might I add, that it is SO heartwarming to see the great Gerard Depardieu (certainly France's greatest actor...ever) take a special guest appearance as Louis Leplée, the man who "discovered" her and started her on her way to fame, and, incidentally "named" her Piaf..."The Little Sparrow". Also, magnificent in her part, as Marguerite Monnot, Marie-Armelle Deguy! Noted, also, is the believable portrail of Marcel Cerdan by Jean-Pierre Martins. One of the most special and surprising things in the film, is the very touching scene where a very moving "nod" and "thank you" comes from a spot-on cameo of Marlene Dietrich played by Caroline Sihol.

Costumes, cinematography, and the music (that composed for the film...Piaf's recordings would, naturally, stand out anyway) all are first rate, and deserve notice. Beyond that, the Makeup is simply astonishing! I have NEVER seen such a transformation in my life! Truly Remarkable....an award is surely due here! To take Ms. Cotillard, from the young Piaf to the Piaf that we see at the "institute", who can barely walk even with help, aged and feeble beyond belief is truly a remarkable feat. Again, Kudos to these people who have "brought this about"...they deserve recognition!

Another brilliant stroke is to place "Non, je ne regrette rien", certainly her most indelible of all her songs, where it is....one is left exhilirated (as you would have been at one of her performances), and poised to reflect on her life and what you have just witnessed.

I cannot urge you enough to see this remarkable, and moving, film. Again, as in my title above, this, surely, MUST be the film to win for Best Foreign Film for 2007...I don't see how it could be passed over.

If you love this movie, may I suggest that you go here:
La Vie en Rose: La Môme

And, if you find yourself bewitched by the Great Lady's singing, go here:
30th Anniversaire
This teriffic 2-disc overview of her Best songs is an incredible bargain...do not miss it!

I sincerely hope that I have not included anything in this review that would be "spoilers" for you, it is not my intent. However, one cannot truly review something without including descriptive details of the subject/item being reviewed.

Do Enjoy this Wonderful Movie!
~operabruin

Addendum 2/25/08:
Well, while the Academy chose not to nominate this film for Best Picture, Marion Cotillard was nominated for Best Actress, and she DID win the oscar for her stunning portrayl of Edith. AND, the film was also nominated for Best Makeup, and it DID win, also, for the amazing transformation of Ms. Cotillard into the debilitated Edith at the end of her life...this truly is one of the most amazing things I have seen in ANY film. Kudos to the Academy for recognizing the marvelous performance of Marion Cotillard, and also for the efforts of the makeup people on the film.
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