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La Vie en Rose
La Vie en Rose
Actors: Marion Cotillard, Sylvie Testud, Pascal Greggory, Emmanuelle Seigner, Jean-Paul Rouve
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Music Video & Concerts
UR     2007     2hr 20min

Edith Piaf is the subject of La Vie en Rose, director Olivier Dahan's powerful if emotionally redundant biographical film about the iconic French superstar whose life, as depicted here, seems to have been a numbing success...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Marion Cotillard, Sylvie Testud, Pascal Greggory, Emmanuelle Seigner, Jean-Paul Rouve
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Music Video & Concerts
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Family Life, International
Studio: Tva Films
Format: DVD - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 10/25/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 2hr 20min
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 12
Edition: Import
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: French
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Movie Reviews

Mary Whipple | New England | 09/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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
An extraordinary performance by Marion Cotillard in an extra
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 07/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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."
Non, je ne regrette rien
Amanda Richards | Georgetown, Guyana | 08/03/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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
What happened to the Subtitles for the songs?
T. Alanis | Azusa, CA USA | 11/18/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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?"