Directed by: Oliver Dahan.
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Gérard Depardieu, Clotilde Courau.
"The most astonishing immersion of one performer into the body and soul of another ever encountered on film."
Those of you who have seen and reviewed the film, no doubt put this snippet of a review on there's, so don't mind me being a bit repetitive, but I have reason too. Sure, Marion Cotillard is masterful here (that word still doesn't cut it) and I'll cover that soon, but many don't also realize the brilliance of the film itself.
The story follows Edith Piaf, as you may already know. We are shown her troubled childhood, from her abandonment as a young girl to her life in the circus, to her instant success in her 20's. From there, not only did she have her ups and downs with her career, she had her problems with alcohol and drugs, her battle with rheumatism and her deal with love, all leading to her early death.
Oliver Dahan deserves a round of applause. Not only has he created a respectable biography underneath a masterful performance, he has created a technically outstanding film. His screenplay does suffer a little from being a little too short and cutting past some small aspects of Edith's life, but it is otherwise full of a brilliant understanding of this mysterious women and done with such emotion and depth. His direction is impeccable, he chooses some wise shots and the perfect camera styles and setups for each emotion being radiated off the screen...and with some of the very best editing I have seen in years, there are many key montages and shots that blend together so well with such respect and meaning (the sequence of Edith's loss and then suddenly walking onto stage to sing), if you don't notice these, then you are missing out.
The soundtrack couldn't be done any other way. I half expected a top composer to come in and create his own score for the film but it would have not worked. The score consists of Edith Piaf and that's it...and with the perfect placement and the right songs for many key scenes, it really adds the emotion and intensity to the film that the songs hold already by themselves.
The performances...first, to be nice, all of the smaller performances by many spanning over the decades of the film are great, with not a bad egg in amongst them all, they are all outshone and slightly forgotten. Marion Cotillard has done brilliance beyond imagination. I could certainly be clichéd and say that she deserves the Oscar, which she is bound to win, but its more than that. This performance deserves a whole new category...at the end of the day, it isn't acting...its channeling. From the cute shyness of her early years, to her emotional struggles in her 30's, to her quirkiness in her late years, Marion Cotillard IS Edith Piaf. From her look over the decades, to her movements, right down to the persona of the role, Marion is brilliant, outstanding, masterful...no words of mine can sum it up. 'Hall of Fame' really does call her name.
At a solid 140 minute running time, La Vie En Rose could have been a lot to take in, but with the brilliant structure, the outstanding editing, the respectable, thoughtful and technically brilliant direction...and the best performance in decades, La Vie En Rose is an engrossing, respectful and truly is the perfect Edith Piaf biography. Up there with some of the best films of the year.
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