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La Vie en Rose (released in Francemarker as La Môme, literally: The Kid) is a 2007 French cinema film directed by Cesar Award nominee Olivier Dahan, about the life of the legendary French chanteuse Édith Piaf, and is named after her signature song. The film won five Césars, including one for best actress, and Marion Cotillard won an Academy Award for her performance, marking the first time an Oscar had been given for a French-language role. She is also the first French actress to win a Best Actress BAFTA and the first to win a Comedy or Musical Golden Globe for a foreign language role. It also became the first French cinema film to win two Oscars, the other for Makeup.

Plot

The film presents a fractured and largely non-linear series of key events from the life of Édith Piaf. Although scenes often jump back and forth across decades (evoked as flashbacks mostly from within Edith's memories), parts of her childhood take up much of the first part, and the movie ends with her death, and the performance of her song, "Non, je ne regrette rien."

As a small child in 1918, Edith Piaf is crying on a stoop, near some other children on the streets of Parismarker. Her mother stands across the alley singing, panhandling for change. Edith's mother writes a letter to her child's father, the acrobat, who is in the trenches of World War I. She explains that she's dropping Edith off at her mother's so she can pursue the life of the artist. Her father returns to Paris and scoops up Edith, covered in insect bites and sores, from under the blanket of a bed in a dilapidated house. He drops her off at his mother's, who is a madame of a bordello in Normandy.

There, Edith is adopted informally by Titine, a young troubled redhead who sings to Edith, plays with her, and walks the streets of their small town. Titine and another prostitute care for Edith; they are repeatedly demeaned and abused by brothel customers. Screams of pain ring out one night, as Titine rushes down the hall to help her friend, who explains, "He wanted to play doctor... with his instruments." Edith enters the room, saying she cannot see. A doctor identifies the condition as keratitis, an inflammation of the eyes, and her eyes are wrapped in cloth. She and Titine visit St. Therese at Liseux, where she prays for vision. Later, as the members of the brothel pin up laundry in the backyard, Edith slowly pushes off her bandage and reveals her eyes, and blinks up at the sky.

Several years after the end of the war, Edith's father returns and takes Edith to live with him, at loud protests by Titine, who must be held back while he bundles Edith into a cart. Her father works in the circus as an acrobat. In one very poignant scene Édith is outside cleaning up after dinner at night. She stops to watch a fire eater practising and in the flames sees an apparition of St Thérèse who assures her that she will always be with her - a belief that Édith carries with her for the rest of her life. When Edith is ten years old, her father leaves the company after an argument with the manager and begins performing on the streets of Paris. At one point a passerby asks if Edith is part of the show, and with prompting by her father to "do something," she sings the Marseillaise. More crowds gather around her and are obviously moved.

Years later, Edith makes a friend from a factory job, MĂ´mone, and they wander the streets, drinking from a bottle of wine, and Edith occasionally sings for their supper, quite literally. After singing a few songs and getting a meal in a bistro, her mother approaches her for some change. When Edith gives her a centime (or something that small), her mother yells at her that her daughter will never help her either. She also continues to yell "I am an artist!" Her mother is grabbed by the waiter, and Edith and her friend quickly leave. Edith and MĂ´mone go to a local bar and pay Albert, a slick dark haired pimp, and receive warnings that if she doesn't pull in more money he will "have [her] open her legs like the rest of my women."

Singing on the street in the Montmartremarker neighborhood, a man approaches her and introduces himself - he is Louis Leplée, who has a nightclub that caters to both the lower and upper classes. She sings for him the next day, and his homosexual lover, hostess, and other workers at her club are instantly appreciative of her skills, though the hostess is quite jealous. Pere LePlee changes her name to Piaf, a colloquialism for sparrow, because her original name is too long and off-putting. He introduces her at his show a week later, with new clothes and a new song. His audience is also appreciative, and he introduces her to the president of the radio in Parismarker. She leaves the club quickly, despite the acclaim, and goes to the local bar where she passes Albert a large bundle of cash, and he returns one bill.

MĂ´mone is still in her entourage, and on New Year's Eve, 1935, Edith meets her next Pygmalion-esque manager, yet she does not follow up with him at all, simply pockets his business card. She and MĂ´mone drink buckets of champagne and are rude and loud to almost everyone in their milieu. When one woman approaches to compliment Edith, she responds, "Your face is like a bag!"

Afterwards, Pere Leplee is shot, and everybody thinks it is Edith's role in introducing him to the mafia, namely, the pimp Albert, that causes his murder. She is interviewed by the police at a raucous cafe with a ton of paparazzi. She tries to sing at a low grade cabaret with Albert accompanying on accordion but she is shouted off the stage.

In utter despair, Edith finally meets up with her next savior- Raymond Asso, a talented songwriter and accompanist. He discovers her "beautiful hands," and teaches her to gesture with them while singing. He also emphasizes enunciation, formal wear and comportment. Before their first concert at a music hall, "Not a cabaret," the manager intones, she has a fierce bout of stage fright and is huddled in the dark in her dressing room, thirty minutes after curtain call. He advises her finally to "stand up," and she manages to shake off this fright. This performance is a resounding success.

She is in a large flat in Paris with her entourage, reading a Cocteau play, and joking with MĂ´mone who is dressed as a man in this scene. She puts off the conductor of the orchestra despite the performance being in "48 hours," she invites in an army corporal who asks if she will perform his song. She listens and immediately embraces it, performing it the next night. (This is the trailer.)

Edith next travels to New York Citymarker for more performances. She meets Marcel Cerdan, a fellow French national boxer competing for the World Champion title abroad. They first dine at his "local spot" a diner where she gets a pint of beer and a pastrami sandwich. She teases him that this is not a date, and they end up at a very fancy restaurant, where she orders the wine and entrees. He reveals that he has a pig farm, to which she laughs very loud, and it is run now by his wife and three children. She is quiet, but is quickly falling in love, as she reveals to MĂ´mone that night. He attends her performance, and she attends his bout for the championship, which he wins. They are led through a fire escape of her hotel, where she reveals, "I'm beginning to like this city. There are the stars!" and they have their first night together.

At a party in her suite, she babbles to her maid and secretary Ginou that she doesn't mind he is married, she knows he loves his family. MĂ´mone is annoyed that Edith talks about Marcel all the time. Edith calls Marcel, inducing him to fly to New York from Paris tonight. MĂ´mone threatens to leave Edith during the phone call.

The next morning Edith wakes up to Marcel, who is in a suit lounging on her bed. She rushes off to get him coffee, joking with MĂ´mone and Louis who are subdued, standing in the suite in different rooms. She rushes off to get his present- a watch- and gets irritated that she can't find it. Ginou comes to the door with a very sad expression. Exasperated, Edith asks what is wrong with everyone. Louis, her manager, takes her aside and tells her that Marcel's plane crashed. Edith hysterically searches for the ghost of Marcel that was lounging on her bed just a moment before. Her mourning consists of seeking fortune tellers, cutting her hair and performing.

There were many flash forwards to a small aged-looking Edith with frizzy red hair, sitting in a chair by the lakeside. She can barely move, and fights with her nurse about drinking carrot juice. Another set of flash forwards depict Edith with short curly hair, plastered to her face like she is feverish, singing on stage and collapsing every other song. She is taken back to her green room, only to be yelled at by Louis to stop performing, as she is conducting her "suicide tour." She gets more shots of morphine and continues to perform. Later that night, she asks to ride with "The American," to drive 400 miles to another town to "catch some air." She tells him to turn around, and in his bad French he questions her, then gets into a car accident. We learn in another flash forward that she has broken two ribs and must be hospitalized, explaining the earlier flash forwards, of her convalescence in Grasse, with the carrot juice fights.

In another flash forward, she is hosting a large party at a Parisian bistro. She toasts to Marguerite who saw her "as a princess," before anyone else did. She flirts with the waiter, and topples a bottle of champagne, not due to drunkenness, but her arthritis. She finally sees the owner of the restaurant and implores him to get her a gift. She asks for a ring, with tons of diamonds on it. Louis quietly tells him to simply replace the champagne she spilled. The next morning Louis opens her bedroom door to a small Edith on the large bed, with curtains drawn. He offers her breakfast but she tells him no, she is expecting someone. A young man comes in the room and lounges on her bed. Louis leaves, sitting outside the door. Time passes and he re-enters the room. Five or so bloody syringes are on the bed and both Edith and her young man are lying there with their eyes open, in relatively the same position.

She travels to Californiamarker after her first convalescence and is married to Jacques Peals and driving around with Ginou and some others in a car. Ginou is carsick and Edith takes the small break as an opportunity to drive the car, which she does, into a cactus. She jokes that she will now hitchhike.

She sits with Jacques at the side of a pool and is offered a strange fruity martini drink. She wonders if he will divorce her now. In the next scene, they are at a doctor's office, in America. She explained that she has been using drugs since the plane crash. Before the doctor can tell her how the shots have been affecting her health, her husband says he wants her to go into rehab. She says she wants to change.

Five years after this event, a small, tiny hunched Edith slowly pads into her living room. Her entourage is crowded, concerned, on the other side of the room. She determines that it is impossible, for obvious reasons, to perform at the Olympia. Her long-time arranger Bruno Coquatrix is told to cancel it. A new songwriter and arranger shows up with a song- "Je ne regrette rien" - and Edith explains this is her life, this is what she lives for, and tells Bruno that she will perform at the Olympia.

She sits in her dressing room and searches for her cross that she always wears. She sends her maid and secretary out to get it, and at that point has a series of flashbacks. When she returns with the cross, Edith places it on and shuffles out onto the stage. She begins singing "Je ne regrette rien," to more flashbacks.

A sunny day in the United Statesmarker. She walks out to the beach with her knitting. This is a smaller, red-haired Edith with an obvious stoop. She waves at the lifeguard and sits near the breakers. A young woman with a purse and bag approaches and introduces herself. She is there for an interview. She asks Edith simple questions- what is her favorite color (blue), her favorite food (pot roast). and then more questions. What is the most important thing for an adult to know? "To love." For a woman? A child? A baby? All answers: "To love."

Louis carries a bundled up Edith into her bedroom and tucks her into bed. The subtitle reads that this is the date of her death. She is afraid. She says she cannot remember things. She flashes back to small moments, her mother recognizing that they have similar features, but odd eyes. Her father giving her a Japanese doll that she longed for. From the years when she was a street performer, she remembers her child, Marcelle, that daughter of Louis Dupont. She remembers how he yelled at her for taking Marcelle out on the street. She was singing in a cabaret when Dupont came to tell her Marcelle was in the hospital. They arrive, and Marcelle has already died of meningitis. Edith dies in her bed. In the last scene of the film, Edith Piaf does her debut performance of "Je ne regrette rien" at the Olympia.

Cast



Production

  • Four songs were entirely performed by "Parigote" singer Jil Aigrot: "Mon Homme", "Les MĂ´mes de la Cloche", "Mon LĂ©gionnaire", "Les Hiboux" as well as the third verse and chorus of "L'AccordĂ©oniste" and the first chorus of "Padam Padam". Only parts of these last two songs were sung because they were sung while Piaf/Cotillard was fatigued and collapsed on stage.
  • Apart from that, "La Marseillaise" is performed by child singer Cassandre Berger (lip-synched by Pauline Burlet, who plays the young Édith in the film), and Mistinguett's "Mon Homme" and "Il m'a vu nue" (sung in part by Emmanuelle Seigner) also appear.
  • The movie premiered at the Berlin Film Festival.
  • The opening song in the film is "Milord" -- also known as "Ombre de la Rue."


Box office performance

In theaters, the film grossed US$81,945,871 worldwide — $10,072,300 in the United States and Canada and $71,873,571 elsewhere in the world. In Francophone countries as; Algeriamarker, Monacomarker, Moroccomarker and Tunisiamarker, the film grossed a total of $42,014,775.

This film became the third-highest-grossing French-language film in the United States in the last two decades (behind Amélie and Brotherhood of the Wolf). [457621]

Critical reception

The film received generally favorable reviews from critics. As of July 2008, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 75% of the 135 critics to view the film had given it positive reviews. Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 66 out of 100, based on 29 reviews. In particular, critics praised the lifelike and deeply emotional performance of lead actress Marion Cotillard, culminating in her Oscar win for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Critic A.O Scott of The New York Times, while unimpressed with the film itself, was still rather impressed with Cotillard's performance: "It is hard not to admire Ms. Cotillard for the discipline and ferocity she brings to the role." Carino Chocano of the Los Angeles Times opined that "Marion Cotillard is astonishing as the troubled singer in a technically virtuosic and emotionally resonant performance..." Richard Nilsen from Arizona Republic was even more enthusiastic, writing, "Don't bother voting. Just give the Oscar to Marion Cotillard now. As the chanteuse Édith Piaf in La Vie en rose, her acting is the most astonishing I've seen in years."

Awards

Marion Cotillard won seven Best Actress Awards for her portrayal of Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose:



  • The Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Motion Picture (musical or comedy)


  • The Prix Lumière (equivalent to the Golden Globe in France) for Best Actress




  • The Academy Award (otherwise known as the Oscars) for Best Actress in a Leading Role


  • The CĂ©sar Award (equivalent to the Oscars in France) for Best Actress in a Leading Role


  • The Czech Lion (equivalent to the Oscars in the Czech Republic) Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role


Other Awards include:

  • The CĂ©sar for Best Production Design (Olivier Raoux)


  • The CĂ©sar for Best Photography (Tetsuo Nagata)


  • The CĂ©sar for Best Sound (Laurent Zeilig, Pascal Villard, Marc Doisne and Jean-Paul Hurier)


  • The CĂ©sar for Best Costume Design (Marit Allen)


  • Nominated for a further six CĂ©sars for Best Film, Best Director, Best Writing, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best editing.












  • The Czech Lion for Best Film score.


References

  1. " La Vie en rose: A French Songbird’s Life, in Chronological Disorder". The New York Times. June 8, 2007. Retrieved February 27, 2008.


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