La Vie en Rose (2007)

Dir. Olivier Dahan

I’m not sure who would like this film, but I’m pretty sure Don, Joel and Marc would not like this. Then again, one of the reasons I didn’t care for the film is very subjective, and those that disagree may like this a little more. Read the next section to get a better sense if you would like this. Larri didn’t really care for this.

This is a bio-pic about Edith Piaf, the popular, early-to-mid 20th Century Parisian singer. Before I describe anything more, let me just that I’m losing interest in a bio-pics–generally, but of musicians, specifically–especially if those bio-pics are essentially the same (or inferior) to those VH1 Behind the Music documentaries. Unless the bio-pic does something more–depict interesting character development or have an interesting story that goes beyond the typical rags-to-riches and eventual fall from glory–I probably won’t like the film. I find that the stories in these bio-pics are essentially the same or so similar that they’re boring. Btw, Walk the Line, the film about Johnny Cash and Ruth Carter Cash, was an exception. The interesting story, in that case, was the romance and relationship between the two people–played by actors who could act and had chemistry–and how they eventually got together. But I digress.

I get the sense that sometimes the filmmakers feel that if they can find an actor who can flawlessly impersonate the subject, then that, almost by itself, is sufficient. I disagree with this. I haven’t seen Piaf in person or in footage, but my sense is that Marion Cotillard did a very good, if not great job of bringing that Piaf to life. Still, seeing a great impersonation does not a great film make, imo. There has to be an interesting story, interesting character development. (I wish I could articulate more precisely the necessary ingredients. Btw, this is similar to the issue of bringing a historical event to the screen.)

But that wasn’t the only problem for me. The other big problems was that the music. There’s a line in the film where Piaf says, “Americans just don’t get me, and I don’t get them,” or something to that effect. Well, count me (and Larri) among the Americans who don’t get her. Except for performance of the French National anthem(?) when Piaf was a child, I was unmoved by her voice and the music. Perhaps, the music captures Paris, it’s spirit and flavor, particularly of that time. Well, I’ve never been to Paris, so that could be the reason I didn’t get into the music. Others may disagree, and if that’s the case, they may like the film more.

One thing I did like about the film was the look, particularly the cinematography (dark). It was a nice film to look at.

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