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La Vie en Rose
By Caroline Planque
Posted June 26, 2007

    Edith Piaf’s life epitomizes the myth of a French artist: a life started in utmost poverty, which would give everything only to later take it back. Piaf’s  life knew no boundary between art and existence. Her personal victories as well as her tragedies set up a self-destructive fate from which she could not escape.   

    Olivier Dahan’s latest feature, La Vie en Rose, cleverly weaves the threads of Piaf’s life in a non-linear manner, alternating the great performances of her career with a recollection of the most telling episodes of her life. Dahan himself confesses that he did not know much about the French icon prior to starting the project: “Only a few songs, like most people. When one grows up in France, one can’t escape it…. But I read a lot and discovered many things as I was writing the screenplay.” The film feels a bit melodramatic and contrived at times, especially in earlier scenes when Edith seems to have found a safe haven in her grandmother’s bordello in Normandy. But Dahan insists that “95 percent of the facts related in the movie are true” and that he only took liberties as a director in the narrative structure of the movie. The film also completely leaves out a major historical event at the time: World War II, choosing instead to focus solely on Piaf’s career and sensitivity as an artist.  

    But beyond those few points, one cannot help but be mesmerized by Marion Cotillard’s performance as Piaf, a role for which she just won the Golden Space Needle Audience Award for best actress at the Seattle International Film Festival. She, alone, carries the movie, making for extremely moving moments of truth, from performing on stage to learning about her lover Marcel Cerdan’s death.  

    La Vie en Rose also scored 2nd runner up for the Golden Space Needle Audience Award for best film at SIFF.

Now playing at The Egyptian Theatre

Also read an interview (in French) of director Oliver Dahan.


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