I have recently made a list with 10 inspiring films about strong women and a friend reminded me of one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen and I said “I need to do a separate piece on this film”! Et Voila!
La Vie en Rose is not only a beautiful spectacular film but it is also about one of the most amazing singers of all time: Edith Piaf! I have never heard any other voice like hers and the strength that she projects in her voice is incredibly powerful, almost like she is singing with her soul!
The song “La Vie en Rose” is probably one of the most known songs in the whole world, a symbol of love, joy and fulfillment! It immediately melts your heart and spreads hope and happiness, probably more like any other famous popular songs.
Edith’s life was far from being happy, having terrible turning points and a tragic ending, making her almost a character from a Greek Tragedy. But the flame that burnt inside her soul will always be a true inspiration! She put everything in her singing, dedicated herself completely to everything that she did, fully living and fully loving!
Marion Cotillard becomes Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, so well that she is unrecognizable! Her performance is so close to perfection that she won the Oscar for Best Actress in 2008, making her one of the very few foreigner actresses to take home this trophy and the second one to win it for a performance not in English, after Sophia Loren won in 1961.
From singing in the streets to the greatest concert halls in the world, Edith quickly becomes famous due to her incredible talent. But her fame doesn’t bring her too much happiness, always being in sufferance and constantly loosing the loved people in her life.
She carries the wounds of her childhood throughout her life, suffering from living in a brothel as a child, after being abandoned by her alcoholic mother who was singing in the streets and her father who was a circus performance, leaving her with her grandma, the Madam of the brothel.
Edith is a mixture of vulnerability and toughness, even street toughness and these two extreme sides are very well portrayed and played by Marion, bringing a unique touch of fragility on screen.
The resemblance is so impressive! The thin eye-brows and the long forehead, the tragic glare and the strange teeth have all been constructed on Marion, as well as her gestures, mimics and walking that is almost like a puppet in some scenes.
The only thing that I have maybe wanted was to hear Marion sing as well. She has an amazing voice, but I understand the director’s choice in wanting to have Edith’s original tracks. Even if you can reproduce Edith’s look, the voice is so unique that no one could have ever sang like her.
Marion took, though, canto lessons, breathing and voice lessons in order to learn how Edith’s body was moving when she was singing. She wanted to study her breathing and the way she tensed her muscles. Even if she was just lip-syncing, it had to be genuine and real in order to make the audience believe that Edith Piaf is real and once again on screen. I believe she did…
The choice of the life moments that appear in this biopic may be discussed as there are moments or historical contexts that don’t appear or are not clearly discussed, like what did the singer do in the Second World War. As a matter of fact, she was no stranger to risk and she loved her country so much that she chose to sing for highly ranked Nazi’s officers in order to get herself photographed with the French prisoners of war. These photos were later used to make them fake passports in order to escape and thus she is known to have helped the French Resistance.
You may understand now what the song Non, je ne regrette rien means sang to an entire generation who has been through this terrible war. The song is also a reference to her party moments with the Nazis, admitting that she needed to play a role to survive and to help her nation so no, she doesn’t regret that. But these are of extremely importance in her life and in portraying a heroine, that was more of a voice in sufferance.
There are of course beautiful moments built and the way her memories intertwine with the facts and reality offer an interesting twist to this biopic, but the one who gives a great dimension to this is none other than Marion Cotillard. Chapeau!