• Rating: PG-13 • Studio: HBO Home Video • DVD Release Date: November 13, 2007
• Run Time: 141 minutes • Starring: Marion Cotillard, Gerard Depardieu, Emmanuelle Seigner • Rating:***** out of 5 stars
Surprise! Surprise! Marion Cotillard (A Very Long Engagement, A Good Year) won the Oscar for Best Actress. Foreign language films are not supposed to produce Best Actors or Actresses. Who saw this coming? Well, if you have seen the movie, you will know that it is an award she has earned. She is absolutely spot-on her role as legendary French singer Edith Piaf. She totally transformed herself into the role….
(All Pictures courtesy of TF1 International)
Edith Piaf was French singer who found her first taste of fame in the mid 1930’s, but who had a turbulent childhood. She was raised in a brothel, then a circus. As a teen (and this is where Cotillard comes in) she drank and drank and sang and sang. Finally, when she is discovered by nightclub owner Luis Leplee (Depardieu), her star begins to rise.
This movie however, is not a happy one. The childhood she had was a difficult one, she was often sickly and frail (a whole 4’8” tall), she was addicted to drugs and alcohol, and she had love affairs that did not last, throughout the course of her short 47-year life (1915-1963).
Cotillard gives a stunning performance. Those familiar with Edith Piaf's story and pictures could swear they were actually looking at her. From comical moments to pure drama to instants in which nothing is said at all, Cotillard's body language perfectly suits the role. The supporting cast is excellent as well. Emmanuelle Seigner gives an astonishing performance as the prostitute Titune who helped to raise Piaf while during her childhood at a brothel.
Pictured: Marion Cotillard (A Very Long Engagement, A Good Year), left, looks virtually indistinguishable from the actual Edith Piaf, pictured center and right.
For people unfamiliar with Edith Piaf, this is a good place to start. For those familiar with her life and music, it’s like seeing Edith alive again. She died 11 years before I was born, and I did not discover her music until about a decade ago. The way her songs were written and sung was remarkably true and heartfelt.
In America she is known mostly for the title song of the film “La Vie En Rose. Perhaps her best song, though, is "Non, je ne regrette rien" which appears toward the end of the film. The song (written by a French soldier) had a message that Edith could not pass up. The song translates roughly to “I don't regret a thing. What has happened has happened and has been paid for. Neither the good done to me, nor the bad;
to me, they're all the same. No, I regret nothing. Because my life, because my joys, today, begin with you."
To Piaf, these words told the story of her life. It was all summed up in this one song.
See this movie. It is excellent, and you will likely appreciate why Marion Catillard won the Academy Award for her performance in this film, which belonged to her. I cannot praise this movie enough.