Friday, May 20, 2011

La Vie en Rose (La Môme)

Straight after The Pianist, I watched La Vie en Rose (french title La Môme) – I had heard so much about it, and there has been so much fuss about Marion Cotillard, that I felt it was a must-see.
Released in 2007, it is about the life of Edith Piaf, a famous French singer and is presented in a series of flashbacks, going back and forth in time. Marion Cotillard, who impersonates Edith Piaf, received an Oscar for her performance, the first time such an award was given for a role in french language.
It is an unstructured look into the life of Édith Piaf. Her mother is an alcoholic, her father a circus artist,  and her grandmother a madam. As a child she lives with them, and in her 20s she is singing in the streets, where she is discovered by a club owner who is then murdered. She uis then coached by a musician who brings her to fame. She is always drinking or abusing drugs. Although she had many love affairs, the only one described here is her story with Marcel Cerdan.
I do not know if the impersonation of Edith Piaf is accurate, but the acting of Marion Cotillard is spectacular is taht she is able to play a woman at many different stages of her life. Sure, the makeup does help, too !

We learn a lot about Piaf but do not really know if her suffering and her art are lin,ked or not, this is not shown clearly. It all ends up being very confusing, going back and forth, and in the end all we learned during the very long 150 minutes is that Piaf has a tough life and was a great artist. Nothing more. The character in itself, as played by Marion Cotillard, is barely likeable, and in the end her high voice when she talks, her irreverence, her ability to be passionate and cruel at the same time make it a very hard movie to watch.

American journalist: If you were to give advice to a woman, what would it be?
Edith Piaf: Love.
American journalist: To a young girl?
Edith Piaf: Love.
American journalist: To a child?
Edith Piaf: Love

Edith Piaf: [to Marcel] You are my champion. I want you to be mine for life. Nothing existed before you. It's all gone.

Edith Piaf: I can't? Then what's the point of being Edith Piaf?

Add the suffering to it and the absence of any kind of boundaries, and basically, after The Pianist especially, all you have is a depressing film. I had to force myself to watch it until the end. The only emotionnal moments are through the original songs of Piaf. The last scene at the Olympia is admittedly touching but has nothing to do with the quality of the movie, rather with the music.
From a pure acting perspective it is a masterpiece, but I did not enjoy it.

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