I’m not French; I’m not even a Westerner though I’m somehow familiar with a bit of their cultures where the credits of my knowledge go to the movies I’ve come to watch. To top it all I knew very less of the Western people especially the French (except of the historical figures that were included in our lessons back at school), but this biographical movie of Edith Piaf, her most recognizable specialty on chanson realiste genre, and the rest of extraordinary events in her life really got me bonded on my seat (while holding a cup of coffee as usual). As I stirred my favorite beverage, the film stirred up as well the curiosity in me to know more about the intricate details of the French music, history, and their most known and influential customs there.
La Vie En Rose opened with a stage performance of already feeble Edith, singing at New York, at the age of 44. Everything that greeted me on that first two minutes of the film – the terrifying music intro, the melodious voice of Edith in her somber deliverance of lyrics, the musical theatre in its warm color scheme, and the cutting of frame to the shot of ambulance and men rushing in – quiet impressed upon me the nature of the scenes that are about to come for the rest of two hours.
If you want to see Paris in its early decades of the 20th century, then this film is a must-see for you. The movie told the life of Edith Piaf, one of France’s greatly celebrated international divas whose life story was a blend of troubling twist and turn, love, fame, success and health betrayal. Her life was shown from her childhood which was spent on the street while her mother sung, busking for coins to the last days of her life, frail and sick. We would see here how her younger years were exposed to the impoverished way of life, until her mother left her to her maternal grandmother to pursue singing career. Edith then was so innocent and sick ‘til her father fetched her and left her to her paternal grandmother, who ran and managed a brothel. After the hostile street environment, Edith was then transferred to another place that opened her up to the cruel and undignified trade of prostitution.
Edith’s story had depicted as well the destitution issues of Paris at that time. Though she was harshly challenged by life in her early years, Edith never lacked the good people who supported and helped her to get through all the fate’s adversities. She got Titine who influenced Edith on her religion and undying devotion to St. Therese, Momone who was Edith’s sister by heart, and the rest of people including her entourage who stayed with her from her celebrity fame to the downfall of her health that eventually drew the last breath on her frail and weakly hunched body.
Edith’s rise to international fame from being a street crooner was not an easy trail. Edith reached the peak of success with the image of broken, wretched and toughly challenged woman beneath the fancy celebrity clothes and sophisticated make ups. But like anyone else, Edith dealt with it in every best imaginable way possible. She developed the character of a happy woman with frenzied endeavor to crack laughter in the crowd, just so to generate entertainments in spite of the disasters and ill-fated events that happened in her life. She has had lovers and husbands but Edith was loyally and faithfully married to nothing else but to singing. There was a part in the film where Edith said that if she wasn’t singing then she would not be living in this world at all. Edith Piaf was the existence of a singer that wasn’t made, but a singer that was born.
The film was approached in a series of flashbacks to Edith's earlier life, a sequence of random frames of Edith in her various ages, situations, and periods in life. The editing treatment had the tendency to confuse on which of Edith life situations being shown had happened first since the chronicles were arranged in no particular order of its occurrences.
The film has really got me mixed up as I watched the story revealed right there before my eyes. This is the most sensitively and psychologically bothering film I’ve seen after the “Hilary and Jackie” – the life of celebrated virtuoso, devastated by traumas, past events, health betrayal and love. Edith was emotionally and mentally ravaged not of morphine and alcohol but of the certain events in her life that made her seek refuge in getting drunk and drugged. However, despite of it all she never lose her faith and still clung to it up to the last days of her life.
No wonder that “La Vie En Rose” had successfully gained numerous awards including the Academy Award for Best Actress that was given to Marion Cotillard. Marion Cotillard’s portrayal of Edith Piaf was superbly justified, from the physique to the psychological and emotional embodiment of Edith’s characters – everything was just so next to perfection. Marion didn’t just portray Edith Piaf but she had actually given herself away and put Edith’s soul inside her!
For this scrupulously made film that depicted the life of remarkable personality through the exceptional portrayal by one of the finest French actresses, I’ll give it a perfect rate of 10 Espresso Shots!