Sunday, April 19, 2015

(Spoilers) La Vie En Rose Review

***SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers may be found in the post below about VARIOUS ITEMS. And I'm going to add in a bit of filler text here to limit how much of the main article gets shown in a preview. That should take care of most of it. Hopefully. And away we go. SPOILER WARNING. ***

Never been to France, but I can speak a bit of French thanks to mandatory classes throughout K-12. Not a huge fan of bands or music from before the 1980s. There wasn't a threat against my life. So why did I watch a French language movie about a famous singer from France who passed away decades before I was born?

It won an Oscar for Best Actress. That actress appeared in a number of English language films and I found her to be excellent in each one. Basically, the movie was on television and it had Marion Cotillard, so I gave it a shot.

A drama based on the life of Edith Piaf. It was one of those time jumping, look-back movies, as opposed to a linear, beginning to end movies with a single timeline. The movie covered her life from child to adult with lots and lots of music.

Good or Bad?
I loved it and understood exactly why Marion Cotillard won her Oscar. She managed to play a character over a decade younger and older than her, at the time, convincingly with help from the make-up department. Seeing her go from insecure young adult to a deathly sick middle-aged woman was very impressive. The most interesting thing was seeing Marion in her "natural environment" speaking French, even though I needed the subtitles to fully understand what was being said. I had previously only seen her English performances.

Aside from the lead actress, the integration of Edith Piaf's music felt very well done. A movie about a singer without good music would have been troublesome. The lip syncing appeared spot on, and I initially thought the performances were all rerecorded due to the quality of the sound. There were even songs that I recognized but never knew were sung my Edith Piaf.

Story-wise, I was satisfied with the non-linear style of storytelling used. It wasn't an after-action debriefing -- those bug me now. I think there were two major timelines used. One started in her childhood, the other in her 40s. The settings and costumes were distinct due to the 30-40 year time difference. Her time in America was the best because I could understand the English spoken, and the scenery in California or Nevada looked familiar. I was actually slightly confused the first time I watched it due to the time jumps - everything cleared up the second time, so not a big deal.

One major item missing from the version I saw was the Second World War. There were maybe one or two scenes set early in the war before the time jumped ahead to the late 1940s. I was wondering how they would handle that period. Skipping it almost entirely kind of works.

Best and favorite scene for me was what looked like a single, long shot where Piaf learned that someone died. I had to rewatch that scene a few dozen times. Marion went from happy to annoyed to completely devastated and inconsolable in one scene -- if it was one long shot, even more impressive. The song, Hymne a L'amour, turned that scene from a 10/10 to a 20/10.

It was a good movie. Not only did I get to see an amazing performance from Marion Cotillard, but I was properly introduced to Edith Piaf's music. Oh, and my mind was blown when I realized that it was Edith Piaf's song in Inception and Marion Cotillard was in it too.

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