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August 6, 2007 | by  | in Film | [ssba]

La vie en rose

This epic biopic tells the amazing story of the extraordinary and tragic French singer Edith Piaf. The film seems to focus itself around three story lines simultaneously – her youth, her adulthood and her last days. Things are tumultuous from the beginning and stay that way. We get to follow a mixture of happy moments, sad episodes, successes and humiliations. We see Piaf as a young girl who is abandoned by her street singer mother, raised in a brothel, temporarily goes blind, is ripped away from her surrogate mother, tours in a circus with her father and begins to sing when accompanying him as a street-performing contortionist. As a young adult she is forced to be a street singer like the mother she now hates. She is discovered, but as her fame takes off she is wrongly accused of murder, has to struggle with a drug addiction and loses her child and her soul mate.

Her later life (she died at 47) has her riddled with health problems, which results in her regularly collapsing on stage. Some things from her life are omitted – Piaf’s actions during the German occupation of France during WWII and the marriage to a Greek singer 20 years her junior. It is a beautifully shot and a brilliantly acted film, but the standout element of La vie en rose is the editing and structure of the story. It is one of the most non-linear films I have even seen. The continuity is cut and fractured at numerous points in the film, jumping back and forth to different times in her life to create a magical impressionist view. This bold and unorthodox form of storytelling does not make La vie en rose an easy film to watch, but if you are will to put the work in, you will be in for a rewarding cinematic experience.


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