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Sad And Senseless Struggle

Contributor:
Mark Tregoweth
Mark Tregoweth

The journey from the slums of Paris to the limelight in New York is a sad and senseless struggle for Edith Piaf in the biopic La Vie en Rose.

A tragic tale of fame and fortune and a career fraught with frustrations, the film plots the course of the iconic French singer’s life through a series of flash backs and flash forwards.

Skilfully directed by Olivier Dahan, this film is not for the faint hearted. Emotionally draining from start to finish Edith Piaf’s life was no fairy tale.

Taken from a self absorbed mother at an early age she struggled with significant health woes when she was left in the care of a grandmother who ran a brothel and was later uplifted by her father for life on the road.

When her father’s circus tricks fail to feed them, Piaf uses her voice and learns to sing for their supper.

As a young woman Edith Piaf’s (Marion Cotillard ) raw talent is recognised by impresario Louis Leplée (Gerard Depardieu) who attempts to steer her career as he doges the criminal element she is entangled with.

As her star rises, managers come and go, lovers provide intimate interludes and alcohol and drugs take hold of her life.

Dogged by misfortune, dishonest friends, bad business deals and a succession of accidents, health concerns and bad luck it is clear early on that Piaf had little chance of ever finding happiness.

Heavy on heartache La Vie en Rose paints a gloomy picture of Piaf.

While the story of her life is tragic, her music and Marion Cotillard’s performance are powerful.

For me the seal of success with any foreign language film is when subtitles disappear before your eyes and the strength of the story and performances of the cast take over. La Vie en Rose succeeds in both instances.

With the art of make up Cotillard achieves the look of the singer and with her award winning performance the subtle nuances and mannerisms of the legendary singer are brought to life.

Behind the scenes footage, a documentary on Edith Piaf and deleted scenes from the film complete the picture of a tragic life of a woman with a rare talent.

La Vie en Rose ***1/2

Warner Bros DVD

134 Minutes

French language with English subtitles

Special features:

Making of La Vie en Rose

Edith Piaf Documentary

La Vie en Rose in New York

Deleted scenes

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