Picturehouse and HBO Films present a critically-acclaimed biopic about the legendary international singing icon Edith Piaf, whose voice and talent captivated the world. Starring award-winner Marion Cotillard (A Very Long E... more »ngagement, A Good Year) in an astonishing performance, the film is a portrait of a remarkable artist born into poverty who survived using the only gift she had ‚?" her voice. Piaf‚??s tragic life was a constant battle to sing and survive, to live and love, with no regrets.« less
Loren C. (lmc) from MONROE, MI Reviewed on 4/19/2014...
Do you recall that very scary sequence in "Saving Private Ryan" where the music played via an old crank phonograph w/ its bell 'speaker' broadcasting into a city microphone is the method used to relay information about the arrival of the Nazi German Panzer (tank) Division to the one surviving bridge in a town that is desolate of citizens? The music sang sweetly through the air until the Allied soldiers (mostly/all Americans, including Tom Hanks men who were sent to collect Pvt. Ryan for immediate transfer to home) - and the music played while the men fortified key sections in the city in preparation for the arrival of the German Tanks. The music would only stop once the Nazi Tank Division was in sight.
The songstress played on that recording in '...Private Ryan', that was broadcast over the loudspeaker was Edith Piaf - a French 'Diva'. Ms. Piaf was a real Diva, one of the last ones, too - a songstress of the greatest talent. Not how we know the term 'diva' to mean currently - loud, flashy, usually self-centered, arrogant female, or possibly prissy/feminine overly demanding, obnoxious man who rarely has a real talent in singing, or talent in much else other than being loud, out there and obnoxious w/ a trendy, expensive look. Edith Piaf was a real Diva, who, ultimately, had really serious problems w/ her health. Problems that cut her life short, very short.
'Diva' was previously a term reserved for a female singer, a classical or operatic singer of extraordinary talent). I knew that it was Piaf when I saw the film, and had heard Ms. Piaf's music over the years, but knew nothing else about her except, possibly, that she died young. After hearing the song in 'Saving Private Ryan', I acquired my first collection of Ms. Piaf's standards, released in a tidy collection on a 'cassette tape'. I borrowed albums from the library, too, on occasion. And, yes, I was really excited about the upcoming release of this film, too. But after seeing the film, I found myself in a quandary. I now had to reconsider my rankings on my film list! I eventually gave up on having one favorite film and now have a handful of favorites, thanks, in part, to 'La Vie En Rose'! I am no more flexible and able to have the freedom to say that any number of films are favorites, but, honestly, 'La Vie En Rose' still ranks as one of the top in the crop of 6-7 films that I call favorites. It is amazing and worthwhile viewing even for people who DETEST SUBTITLES, biopics, movies that revolve around music, historical dramas, war period films, etc...
This is one of the BEST films that I have ever seen - literally. I loved it so much that I saw it 3 times at the theater (living in Washington, DC) so the first time I viewed it was for a promotional screening (if I remember correctly - ALL films screen in Washington, DC, for some reason - so I've been fortunate to be able to watch so many films in the nicest theaters with frequently with a person or two important in the production - the star, director, author/producer/director combos, etc - such as Charlie Kaufman, Peter Fonda, Chaz Palminteri to name a few).
It's unfortunate that people who have yet to see this film don't have an opportunity to see it in the theater - for the music is amazing for Cotillard has Ms. Piaf's moves down cold; stance, strong gestures when singing, brusque approach when confronting unpleasant persons/situations, body movements while singing - and Ms. Piaf was very distinctive and used her entire body when singing. Ms. Cotillard even has Ms. Piaf's speaking voice - yelling, gruff, sweet and sexy - she has the voice perfected. The majority of the songs sung by Cotillard during Piaf's early years (as a teenager and in her 20's) are sung by Jil Aigrot - with one sung by Aigrot and Cotillard in a duo. The songs during the middle and end of Piaf's career (when she was in her 30's until death at 47, are sung by Ms. Piaf.
Ms. Piaf was known for her physical presence, one that was so very notable and what made her petite frame noticeable. Although only approximately 4'11" - 5'0" tall, and frequently one of the only women in a restaurant eventually sitting w/ a table of men (promoter(s), manager, wealthy fans, etc) treating post concert, she still stood out in the crowd whether sitting or standing because of her presence - how she moved, held herself and attention grabbing gestures backed by smart, witty and even sometimes cutting banter.
Seeing this in the theater enhanced the experience exponentially. But, if a person watched it on the small screen and was adept at reading subtitles (or understood French and could cut out the subtitles) your experience would really be improved if you had a home theater system, surround sound, stereo - something to bring out the sound and music for it is wonderful. I truly believe that people who don't know her music or aren't typically entertained by music, what are now called "classic" or "standard" tunes would enjoy the music while watching the film.
Clarifying now that it is not a musical! I personally don't care for many musicals - screen classics and more contemporary ones, I just don't typically care for many of them regardless of when they were made (classic Hollywood, etc - I may like `-3 out of every 10 that I've seen over the years) - and I add this personal information so that those who don't like musicals understand my stance on disliking musicals - or even films that are music driven. 'La Vie en Rose' is music driven, of course, since it is a film about Europe's "Little Sparrow", the woman who's music was the anthem of France, post WWI-post WWII, even after her death she was still, is still, heavily identified as "France's Songstress".
It is interesting that she struggled with what so many people are currently dealing with as a result of our largest generation's aging, and living much longer and much more active lives which is resulting in many more back injuries that cannot be treated by any method other than alleviating the symptoms, pain. Because of the lack of more advanced treatments available to those who have private insurance, some people (those w/ private insurance) are able to take advantage of surgical procedures to minimize the damage or eliminate it all together and in these such cases, people are relieved from treating the symptoms w/ pain medicine. When Ms. Piaf had her very serious auto accident, the treatment(s) that she did receive allowed her to walk, but she did so living in great pain - which was treated w/ the common pain relievers, the few that were available at that time - which was typically opioid based (poppy) - natural or synthetic. And there wasn't a way to switch types once she would have developed tolerance, the solution would be to supplement it w/ something that would make it work more effectively, such as alcohol. This is what, ultimately, was the demise of Ms. Piaf - back, neck, head and leg pain that was so severe that she became untreatable by proper medical protocol, protocol that was ineffective at that time. Unfortunately, even w/ the advances in spinal procedures to correct/partially correct damage, the myriad of medicinal options available to those who have private insurance or can financially afford treatments that are effective and reliable - if it weren't for the high prices imposed upon treatments and medicines by big pharma/insurance, we would not be seeing people struggling currently, just as Ms. Piaf did during the last 5 years of her life that was cut short much to early at 47 years of age in 1962.
Although my editorialization about the state of proper and appropriate healthcare and the lack of its availability, STILL, for well over 50% of the United States population isn't necessarily important to a review of this movie, I tied this current state of healthcare affairs and a very much relevant health concern for an even larger percentage of our national population into this review because it might pique the interest of viewers who would normally breeze by such a film because it is historical/factual and isn't about a more current American celebrity. But, the core features of Ms. Piaf's story are very much current and relevant and might not only entertain but help a wider audience take interest, watch the film and not only learn about this amazing woman, but they will have an opportunity to better understand this situation that has become somewhat of a phenomenon in society at this time - might give the unexpected viewer (a person that would not normally watch a French, subtitled film or one set in early-mid 20th century about a female songstress) insight on what a family member or neighbor is going through.
It is an amazing film and worth a try (watching it) even if you don't normally like biopics, subtitled films, realistic films set in early-mid last century/WWII, etc...
And if anybody has a special edition of the extended release, widescreen version of the film - special packaging, film promo stuff, Biography, have the cd (I lost my outside packaging and now my cd is scratched up but still plays, at this time - but could use a new one), etc and it is both complete and in "like new condition" - contact me and I will gladly swap you for it and toss in extra credits (or your choice of "credit" payment for the "extras"! I belong to the book and CD swap, too. lmc
0 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Deborah A. from SARASOTA, FL Reviewed on 11/6/2009...
There is a reason Cotillard won an Academy Award for this movie. Incredible performance!!! Although Piaf did not have a very happy life, this movie was an accurate depiction of her career. If you are looking for pure entertainment, don't get this movie. It is a gritty account of a gutsy lady.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Suzanne B. Reviewed on 1/3/2009...
Fabulous foreign-language film (optional English subtitles) about the tragic genius of the late singer Edith Piaf. One of the most remarkable portrayals by an actress I have ever seen. The stunningly beautiful Marion Cotillard is unrecognizable as the talented, yet unattractive and troubled Piaf. The film requires concentration, as the narration jumps back and forth in time yet it is a fascinating story. Saw the extended version with bonus feature (about Cotillard's transformation).
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Bonnie S. (BonnieS) from HEDGESVILLE, WV Reviewed on 12/9/2007...
A beautiful movie, to watch, to hear. The performances were phenomenal! But, the entire era from the late 30's to late 40's was missing. Wasn't the war era especially influential for her, her fans? Not one mention of her acting career. Still, so very worth watching.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
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?"
The Little Sparrow
Scott T. Rivers | Los Angeles, CA USA | 04/15/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."