Customer Review

407 of 416 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exhausting!, September 12, 2007
This review is from: La Vie en Rose (Extended Version) (DVD)
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 old age 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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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 26 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 14, 2007 5:38:43 AM PDT
Miami Bob says:
I just jumped to my netflix account on account of your account. Great job.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 14, 2007 7:31:45 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 14, 2007 7:42:52 AM PDT
Mary Whipple says:
Thanks, Bob. This is a performance you will never forget, I promise. Be sure to turn off the phone and the cell phone, lower the lights, and settle in comfortably so you won't have to move! It's a mesmerizing performance, though tough to watch, sometimes.

Like most other reviewers here, I neglected to mention that the film is entirely in French, with subtitles, something that is absolutely irrelevant when you are watching this in the theatre. I don't know how the subtitles would be on a small-screen TV, but so much is visual here that it may not make any difference at all. Best, Mary

Posted on Sep 16, 2007 10:48:23 AM PDT
JoeyD says:
This is definitely one that I surely can't miss. Excellent review as always. Now when are they going to make a film about another favorite of mine - Maria Callas?

I have said it many times before and I will say it again, you are one of the best reviewers I HAVE EVER READ (including so-called professionals). You should be writing for one of the major newspapers Mary!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 16, 2007 11:12:44 AM PDT
Mary Whipple says:
Oh, Joey, you know you make my day! Many thanks for your kind words! I thought I remembered a film about Callas, and I just looked it up. It's directed by Franco Zeffirelli (!) and is entitled "Callas Forever," a film from 2002. It has Jeremy Irons and Joan Plowright (one of my all-time favorites) in it. Do a search on IMDB. Sounds like something that will interest you! Hope so, anyway! Cheers. Mary

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 16, 2007 2:32:55 PM PDT
JoeyD says:
Once again, thank you! I will definitely be checking out both films. I have learned quite a bit from you.

On a side note, have you ever heard of Irene Kral? Great jazz and big band singer in the 50's and 60's. If you love Ella, Billie, Carmen, Anita, Sarah, Peggy, June, et al... you will love Irene!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 16, 2007 2:59:12 PM PDT
Mary Whipple says:
Yes, I've heard of her, and I've looked at many of her CDs, but I have not yet bought any of them. You inspire me to make the move. I know she's great! Thanks. Mary

Posted on Sep 30, 2007 3:29:32 PM PDT
Kona says:
This sounds like a movie I would really like. Bon review!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 30, 2007 4:54:56 PM PDT
Mary Whipple says:
Thanks, Kona. You will LOVE it! Be prepared, however. It's a film that will put you through the wringer. Good to hear from you. Best, Mary

Posted on Oct 9, 2007 2:04:26 PM PDT
_tMF says:
I think this is another excellent review of this fascinating and memorable film. I love French films, and having seen Marion in a previous yet excellent performance, though supporting role in A Very long Engagement, it only shows the range of her acting skills, as she masterfully portrayed this fascinating singer with such aplomb and power.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 10, 2007 4:20:26 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 10, 2007 2:09:23 PM PDT
Mary Whipple says:
Thanks, movie-fanatic. I'd never seen Marion in any film, and I was stunned by her performance. I have read A Very Long Engagement, and it's one of my favorite novels, so I'll have to look for the DVD of it. Thanks for the suggestion! I appreciate it! Best, Mary
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Mary Whipple

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