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La Vie En Rose

One of Edith Piafís signature songs was Non, je ne regrette rien, and discerning viewers are unlikely to regret buying a ticket to La Vie En Rose.Versatile actress Marion Cotillard surpasses herself as the waiflike French songbird whose personal traumas fueled her art. Director Olivier Dahan weaves known incidents from Piafís personal and professional trajectory into a celluloid mosaic. The film draws on old-fashioned show-must-go-on gumption, yet feels modern, not musty, in its approach. Recent biography subjects Ray Charles and Johnny Cash packed setbacks and success into much longer careers; Piaf died in 1963, at age 47.Younger audiences, accustomed to flashy belting, may not immediately appreciate the gripping originality of Piafís delivery, but they should be able to relate to hard knocks, harder knocks, drug addiction, alcohol, lost love and the needy flip side of adulation when your inner child is scruffy and wounded.Piaf spent her formative years in a brothel, went blind for a while as a child, was suspected of having murdered the impresario who gave her her first professional break ñ and thatís just the tip of a juicy biographical iceberg. The filmís structure doesnít so much bounce back and forth in time as flow in and out of settings and incidents in non-chronological order.The action starts in New York on Feb. 16, 1959, in front of a chi-chi crowd. Next weíre in Paris (1918), where Edithís mother, Anetta, sings for the dirt-poor passers-by of the Belleville quarter. Edithís father, Louis, a contortionist, snatches his daughter from the grubby setting and deposits her with his mother, Louise, a brothel keeper in Normandy. A brothel may be no place for a little girl, but it was there that Edith received the closest thing to actual mothering she would ever know. And it is there that young Edith is instilled with a lifelong taste for prayer by spunky, flame-haired Titine, a church-going prostitute.A wiry wisp of a woman who eventually loomed larger than life, Piaf was discovered on a street corner by Louis Leplee. Borderline geeky, she was, to him, a vocal curiosity whose cabaret dÈbut proved to be electric. Cotillard portrays Piaf from 20 to her deathbed with a range of gestures, her trademark posture, and a core of eternal hurt melded with ferocious pride. She embodies Piafís raspy speaking voice, her imperious street-wise attitude, her simple joy at being lionized by other celebrities, and the taste of artistic triumph mixed with the constant hum of genuine tragedy. Lisa Nesselson, Variety
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Directed by: 
Olivier Dahan
Running Time: 
French with Englsih subtitles
Marion Cotillard, Clotilde Courau Jean-Paul Rouve, Gerard Depardieu, Emmanuelle Seigner
Screenplay by: 
Olivier Dahan & Isabelle Sobelman

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