Vie En Rose is the biography of
infamous French songstress Edith Piaf (played by Marion Cotillard).
The film focuses on the often tragic circumstances of her life,
from a young child in 1918 Paris, to an elderly, bed ridden woman
Edith was abandoned by her mother at a young age while her father
fought for France during World War I. He returned home briefly from
the war to re-locate Edith to Normandy, where she lived with her
Grandmother, who owned and ran a brothel. There she was seen as
an angel by the prostitutes who helped take care of her, especially
by Titine (Emmanuelle Seigner) who developed a strong emotional
attachment to her. Also during this time Edith suffered from meningitis,
and was blind for several months.
When her father - a gifted acrobat - returned from the war, she
accompanied him as he roamed the land with a travelling circus.
Afterwards, they made a living busking in the streets of Paris,
where Edith found her singing voice. This voice will make her a
worldwide sensation. However this did not deter pain and heartbreak
from haunting her every turn.
A lot of this comes from her extraordinary string of bad luck with
the men in her life. Her father treated Edith like dirt, and offered
her little happiness. Louise (Gerard Depardieu), a nightclub owner
in Paris (who Edith affectionately called "Papa"), saw
her potential and gave her the break which propelled her to stardom.
He also gave her the name "Piaf", which is French for
sparrow. However, Louis would be killed and Edith would be paraded
in front of the press as a criminal, since the murderer's were former
friends of Edith's looking for money.
Louise's associate, Raymond Asso (Marc Barbe) would take Edith under
his wing, proving to be a hard task master whilst transforming her
style and demeanour into the entertainer known today.
Finally, there is Marcel (Jean-Pierre Martins), a married boxer
with whom she had an affair. He would die in a plane crash.
The film also looks at Edith's drinking problem, and her dependence
on pain killers after breaking her ribs in a car crash. Attention
is also placed on Edith's strong spirituality, and her dedication
to St.Theresa who visited Edith in an apparition. Edith was also
visited by Marcel's spirit, just before hearing the news of his
French actress Marion Cotillard delivers a stunning performance
as Edith Piaf, inhabiting the role with eerie precision, taking
on the look, the mannerisms, the hunched posture, and the voice
to great effect. Cotillard does not sing in the movie, yet her ability
to lip synch in such a superb fashion - along with the excellent
work by the films sound department - magnificently creates the illusion
that it is Cotillard's voice we are hearing. Cotillard also benefits
from an excellent job by the makeup department, who have transformed
the beautiful actress extremely well.
Director Olivier Dahar has implemented a back and forth structure,
which makes for unique and engrossing viewing, with Editor Richard
Marizy doing a great job helping create a lucid and free flowing
film.Cinematographer Tetsuo Negata provides excellent cinematography,
using as much natural light as possible while highlighting the films
dark textures and gothic tones.Olivier Raoux's production design
successfully captures the architecture and ambience of 1930' Paris,
as do those involved with the art direction, set decoration, and
For those who know there Piaf history, the crushing reveal near
the films end would not come as a surprise. For others (including
myself) the films final moments are a shocking and moving few scenes
which will haunt and inspire the soul upon completion.