Friday, July 6, 2007

La Vie En Rose


Our celebration of July 4th consisted of going to see this biopic on Edith Piaf. My inner Francophile is an anemic creature, but she does love Piaf. Dave, whose love of things French is considerably more robust, also loves Piaf, though not as much as he loves Jacques Brel (who was not technically French, but never mind.) Dave declared La Vie En Rose "a mess"-- and so it is, narratively speaking. The chronology jerks the viewer to and fro, characters appear and disappear unpredictably, and there seems to be a more or less complete amnesia about WWII. All of which counts for nothing, really, because Marion Cotillard's performance as Piaf completely overwhelms everything else about the movie. It's like watching a train wreck. You know you shouldn't be so enthralled by the vision, but you just can't look away. If Cotillard were potraying anybody but Piaf you could dismiss the performance as scene-chewing indulgence; but Piaf's life was scene-chewing indulgence from start to finish, so it works. If you have the smallest sliver of interest in Piaf, it's worth seeing Cotillard bring her back to life. If you're asking yourself "Edith who?" you might want to save your money for pizza.

For a little glimpse of what Piaf meant in her day, here's her 1963 obituary from The New Yorker, written by Janet Flanner. There's a trailer and music at the website for the movie.

5 comments:

chayaruchama said...

It wouldn't surprise you that I know the words to all her songs, or that I've sung them for years.

That I love Cocteau and Flanner, and so many contemporaries [including the inhabitees of 'La Ruche'- yup, especially the hideous Chaim Soutine, right along with lyrical, lovely Chagall]...

I'll stop fighting with myself, and go to the Kendall now, to see it.

You've been on my mind, lately.
Been wearing gardenia.

[Although my family loves it, they always have Prime Suspect #1 associations, lol. Dontcha just love 'em ?]

David Maddox said...

Brel may not be French, but even better, he is the Greatest Belgian of All Time. They took a vote. Justine Henin needs to get past the semis next year if she wants to catch up.

Here is a list of Belgians. Judge for yourself.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Belgians

Arhianrad said...

Funny that you should review this, Maria, I went to see it on Friday :) I thought, much like you, that it was a bit fractured, chronologically. Perhaps the writers assumed we all knew the circumstances of her life? But she was great as Piaf, especially when you compare her to the real Piaf on Youtube.

BTW, did you know that Edith was only 4'8" tall? We're the same height :)

BitterGrace said...

I would love to hear you sing some Piaf songs, Chaya. I'm imagining it now, and myself drenched in a potent gardenia.

Dave, you are fudging. The French speakers gave him first place, but the Flemish vote puts him 7th.

BitterGrace said...

Juvy, I agree, the resemblance to the real Piaf is uncanny. Are you really just 4'8"? No wonder you look so lovely in kimono, designed as they are for petite beauties.