As a last ditch attempt to try and get back into French, I decided to watch some French films. I was recommended La vie en rose by a friend and here is what I thought of it.
Director: Olivier Dahan
Release Date: 2007
Runtime: 140 mins
The film follows the life of Edith Piaf (1915-1963), a French singer famous for many songs, perhaps most notably, Non, je ne regrette rien.
It begins with shots of Edith Piaf (Marion Cotillard) singing, interspersed with clips of paramedics rushing to the aid of a woman who has collapsed. It transpires that this woman is Piaf herself, and so the beginning of the film reflects its entirety; Dahan playing with the chronology throughout.
I found this film difficult to watch at times, the alcoholism and drug abuse is made even more harrowing by Marion Cotillard’s formidable acting- the raw emotions she displays made me have to pause the film on more than one occasion just to take a breather. It is clear why this performance gained Cotillard her Oscar.
The music, of course, is outstanding. Dahan uses Piaf’s own voice and I did not once doubt its power to cast a spell on all those who listen.
It is true that the film felt a little slow at times, I felt it could have easily been twenty minutes shorter. However I would still recommend it to anyone interested in the life of this infamous French singer, just make sure you are not expecting a lighthearted, cheery film!
For me, the mark of a good film is its power to have a lasting effect on me. In this case, by expertly merging scenes of poverty and success, Dahan creates contrasting images of despair and fame within Piaf’s life that are still playing on my mind two days later.