LA VIE EN ROSE
The Troubled Sparrow
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Jean-Paul
Rouve, Jean-Pierre Martins,
Emmanuelle Seigner, Catherine
Allegret, Gerard Depardieu,
Pascal Greggory, Marc Barbe,
and Pauline Burlet
Audience: Older teenagers to adults
Runtime: 140 minutes
Director: Olivier Dahan
Executive Producer: None
Producer: Alain Goldman
Writer: Olivier Dahan and Isabelle
Address Comments To:Bob Berney, President
(A division of New Line Cinema)
597 Fifth Avenue, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Phone: (212) 303-1700
Fax: (212) 421-1163
The actual story begins with Edith's father, a seedy circus performer who's serving in the army, taking Edith away from her alcoholic mother and leaving Edith with her grandmother, who runs a house of prostitution. As a little girl, Edith suffers a case of blindness, but prayers to Jesus and Saint Therese cure her of the disease. Although she still relies on Jesus and the saint in times of stress, Edith becomes a young alcoholic street singer who begs coins during the day to barely eke by a living while she visits seedy cafes at night.
A music impresario discovers her singing on the street and immediately features her at his own café. He dubs her Piaf, "the little sparrow," but scandal interrupts Edith's rise to fame when the man is murdered. Eventually, after another slide into alcoholism, Edith recovers and becomes a world-renowned singer. After World War II, she attracts the attentions of a famous French boxer, who, however, is married. His tragic death in the early 1950s devastates Edith, who once again succumbs to alcohol and, worse, morphine addiction.
Interspersed within this brief biography are scenes of Edith in the late 1950s and early 1960s as the singer battles both her addictions and her failing health. Through it all, however, her voice remains usually, but not always, strong until, in the last year of her life, she must give up performing. In the end, her final international hit is a melancholy French song about having "no regrets."
Edith's Christian faith helps her at crucial moments of her life, but the movie also shows that Edith loved to drink alcohol and party, the ultimate cause of her death, and that the greatest romance of her life was with a married man. Furthermore, the refrain at the end is that, despite her bedridden frailty, the woman still had no regrets for the careless way she lived her life at times.
Thus, ultimately, LA VIE EN ROSE is a tragedy. It shows that, although her family left much to be desired, Edith did not treat her singing as a wonderful gift from God, a gift that demands nurturing and responsibility. As Jesus says in Luke 12:48, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."
Because of the movie's negative elements, including adultery, and mixed worldview, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution. In some ways, Edith Piaf turned out to be her own worst enemy, but there were no people in her life who could really show her how to follow Jesus Christ better.
The episodic nature of the movie's narrative and mixed premise give LA VIE EN ROSE a choppy quality. Although Edith relies on prayer to Jesus Christ and Saint Therese in times of stress, this famous French Catholic celebrity is her own worst enemy. Even so, her trials and tribulations add a depth of longing and pain to her songs, a depth that is still greatly admired today. The movie's negative elements, including adultery, and mixed worldview require extreme caution. Marion Cotillard is brilliant, however, as the diminutive "little sparrow," the meaning of her stage name, Piaf.