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Arts and Entertainment

Rose reviews La Vie En Rose

By Denebola
Published: March 2008

By Erica Rose

There is a great distinction between a star and a legend. Hollywood stars possess a certain intrinsic spark and natural charisma, but ultimately fade from the public mind. By contrast, legends have an indescribable quality, which allows their unprecedented prominence to stay relevant and essential throughout time.
French director Olivier Dahan retells the story of legendary singer, Edith Piaf with emotional vulgarity and cinematic integrity. La Vie en Rose does not attempt to disguise Piaf’s flaws but instead respects Piaf’s imperfections.
With bio-pics like Walk the Line, Ray, and I’m Not There gaining increasing popularity with audiences and critics, Dahan separates La Vie En Rose from the typical bio-pic by treating Piaf’s life and art as a heartfelt, theatrical spectacle. Throughout the film, Dahan uses Piaf’s music to highlight her quirks, creating remarkable memories for the audience.
The film begins with the juxtaposition of Piaf’s unconventional childhood and goes on to follow her descent into an incapable, intoxicated performer.
Piaf’s childhood involves her moving around, from a brothels, to circuses, to the streets. Dahan foreshadows Piaf’s later misfortunes and triumphs in the music industry with scenes from her childhood. As a child, Piaf used her voice to escape her chaotic life and attract attention and fame.
Dahan presents Piaf’s life non-chronologically, avoiding  conventional, redundant scenes, in which the title character displays immoral behavior, or uncontrollable addictions. Dahan emphasizes three main points in Piaf’s life: her discovery, her fame, and her decline into the world of drugs and alcohol.
Talent scout, Louis Leplee (played by Gérard Depardieu) rushes Piaf onto the Paris music scene after watching Piaf sing on a street corner. Piaf soon becomes a star, enchanting the world with her personal magnetism and voice.
In her final days, Piaf ages tremendously, looking thirty years older than her actual age. She desires one thing and one thing only; she wants to be on stage. La Vie En Rose captures Piaf’s inherent ability to captivate audiences with her voice.
One remarkable aspect of the film is Dahan’s incorporation of Piaf’s music, underlining the imperative moments in the singer’s life. At the beginning of her career, Piaf sings “La Vie En Rose, depicting the excitement and tenderness of a new love or feeling. Later, Piaf sings “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien, which describes a life lived without regret, reflecting the singer’s own experiences. Dahan weaves Piaf’s music and the film’s themes together, emphasizing Piaf’s ultimate triumphs and flaws.
Marion Cotillard’s realistic and heart-wrenching performance makes the film a true masterpiece. Cotillard portrays 30 years of Piaf’s life and delivers the gawky awkwardness of the late teenage years, the flouting arrogance of a rising star, and the pathetic, catastrophic decline of a washed-up singer with cinematic poise and excellence.
Cotillard’s performance was ultimately rewarded with the 2008 Academy Award for Best Actress. Piaf’s art, her instrument, and her soul all transcend the flaws of her personality, allowing her legacy to live on today.

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