La Vie En Rose
Biopic about iconic French chanteuse, Edith Piaf. score

moviereview rates films from
1 (unwatchable) to 5 (unmissable)
Marion Cotillard, Pascal Greggory, Gérard Depardieu, Pauline Burlet

Oliver Dahan

Oliver Dahan
Isabell Sobelman

France (subtitles)

Rating / Running Time
MA / 140 minutes

Australian Release
July 2007

Official Site

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ABN 72 775 390 361

Iconic chanteuse Edith Piaf is given the biopic treatment in this eye-catching epic. It’s a bold film that attempts to cover the entirety of her tragic life; from rural France to urban New York, the 1920’s to the 1960’s. There’s a lot of ground to cover and it doesn’t waste time. This Piaf is a formidable figure – feared by all, hated by none, loved by everyone. We meet her at the end of her career, moments before she collapses on stage. Without explaining her plight, Dahan back-tracks to the muddy ruin of wartime Belleville where, a virtual orphan, young Edith is discarded by her mother, welcomed by prostitutes then reclaimed by a father who ‘discovers’ her talent when the pair is forced to sing for their supper. Soon she is rediscovered by a nightclub owner (Gérard Depardieu) and faster than you can say ‘no regrets’, the little sparrow has become a revered, international performer.

La Vie En Rose bounces across Piaf’s complicated life, cutting from past to present in a bewildering juxtaposition of time and events to better explain her emotional state. It creates a bewitching pastiche of the singer, though often at the detriment of those around her. Supporting characters are seldom more than sketches though in truth we’re not here for the entrée and Cotillard serves a magnificent main course. She embodies Piaf from the wide-eyed, somewhat hysterical newcomer through misfortune, misery, heartache and illness until her untimely death at 47, a physical wreck who looked closer to 90. It’s a monumental performance that rightly begs attention and is duly rewarded. Although Dahan’s bustling tone won’t suit all tastes, La Vie En Rose is an exhilarating film, right to the last breathtaking, show-stopping moment.