Marion Cotillard is the only reason to sit through La Vie En Rose, a biopic that compounds its basic tediousness by fracturing its narrative in a vain effort to mask a stale rise-and-fall arc. The subject of Olivier Dahan’s film is legendary singer Edith Piaf, the “Little Sparrow,” who was born into poverty but nonetheless became, during the 1940s and ‘50s, a national icon in her native France before passing away in 1963 of liver cancer. Struggles with booze, tragedy in love, and the cruel unfairness of illness and early death are all stops along the way, though despite some mildly attractive cinematography, there’s nothing that differentiates this cinematic life story from countless others save for Cotillard, whose performance blazes so brightly that it often manages to blind one to the banality of her surroundings. With big doe eyes at once innocent and ferocious, and a petite frame that swings and sways with comic elasticity, Cotillard more than dominates the frame – she engulfs it with wafts of mighty emoting, whether she’s trading barbs with her derelict mother in a café or wailing in response to the news of her cherished lover’s death. This latter scene epitomizes La Vie En Rose, as Dahan’s self-conscious and gimmicky long take encapsulates everything superficial about the film, and Cotillard’s galvanic display of agonized suffering sums up everything that’s worthwhile about it.
I liked the fractured narrative here. It's not excuted perfectly but at moments it was brilliant. Regarding the stale rise and fall arc, I adore Edith Piaf but filmmakers are too often compelled to choose subjects to whom this formula applies. It's lazy. I'm trying to think the last time I saw a biopic of someone who wasn't an addict, went bankrupt, then died in a plane crash while committing suicide.
Posted by: | January 02, 2008 at 08:23 AM