Review of “La Môme” (2007) PG-13 2h 20min
February 27th, 2008 by Maxim · No Comments · 5,786 Views
I got the DVD for La Môme (it’s released in USA under the title La vie en rose) from Netflix a few days before the Oscars but haven’t seen it until after. Needless to say, I was anxious to finally see it after Marion Cotillard won the Oscar for Best Performance By A Female Actor in a Leading Role, and Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald won an Oscar for Best Makeup. Marit Allen was also nominated for Best Achievement in Costume Design, but the Oscar went to Alexandra Byrne who designed costumes for Elizabeth: Golden Age.
The plot: This is the biographical story of Edith Piaf. It covers her life from her childhood (5 year old Edith was played by Manon Chevallier, 10-year old by Pauline Burlet) during and after the World War 1 in poverty when her mother was singing on the streets panhandling for change and her father was fighting. When he came back from war little Edith was in poor health and neglected, and he decided to leave her in the brothel in Brittany where her grandmother was the madame. After her father was discharged from WW1 he began to work as a contortionist in a small circus, and Edith began to sing with her father on the street. This is when she discovered her talent. Her biography then is resumed in her 20s, when she was singing on the street on Montmartre with her female friend, and was approached by Pere Leplee (Gerard Depardieu) and invited to sing at his club. From that moment Edith had adopted a stage name Piaf (Sparrow) and her professional career has began. The movie then covers her rise to huge popularity, as well as all the drama in her life up until her early death at 47.
The good: All performances by the actors, child or adult, were amazing. Marion Cotillard stole every scene, although her body language was slightly forced. Some scenes, however, like the one where she finds out that her married lover, middle-weight boxing champion of the World Marcel Cerdan died in the plain crash when he was flying from New York to Paris to see her. She and Pauline Burlet sang beautifully too. Depardieu had a short role. The costumes, sets and makeup were top class. Looking at the old photographs of Edith Piaf of her posters and comparing them with production photos, the likeness of the movie character to the real person is amazing. The film jumps around in time a lot, although not confusing the viewer; if the movie was linear it would probably make it harder to watch. It’s also worth noting that adult Edith looks and behaves like a circus member: with her red hair, pale face and bright red lipstick she looks like a tragical clown or Pierrot. And finally, I loved her music for a long time: my grandparents used to dance to her record playing on gramophone. “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” (”No Regrets“) was my favorite songs of hers – we hear it toward the end. Those songs made tears roll into my eyes. This is a very dramatic movie, a lot more dramatic and graphic then even Oscar favorites like “There will be blood” and “Atonement”.
The bad: It’s hard to believe that her growing up in the bordello or poverty or sickness had affected her life less then World War 2, which there was no mention in the movie. Apparently her career was on the rise during the war and she often performed for German forces. Her records were selling big time in Germany, which contributed to her popularity during and after the war worldwide – perhaps that is why WW2 is not covered in the movie. She dated a Jewish pianist during that time. Her personal tragedies were selected by the director Olivier Dahan as more important as the tragedies of the world. Also, only in the end of the movie do we find out that she actually had a daughter, who died, and that sequence was very brief. Sounds like it was edited in later. The movie also zooms through her two real husbands, thus making her love for Marcel the love of her life in the film, but she sang on stage with her husbands too, yet there was no mention of this in the film.
Similar movies: obvious titles come to mind: Ray (2004) and Walk The Line (2005).
The summary: this is one of the best movies of 2007. Superb acting and cinematography. I think this is the best biopic I have seen so far. I was so struck by the story and drama I sat in silence through 5 minutes of final credits.
Credits: Director – Olivier Dahan | Script – Olivier Dahan, Isabelle Sobelman | Producers – Timothy Burrill, Axel Decis, Alain Goldman, Marc Jenny, Oldrich Mach, Catherine Morisse, Marc Vadé | Original Music – Christopher Gunning | Cinematography – Tetsuo Nagata | Film Editing – Richard Marizy | Casting -Olivier Carbone | Production Design – Olivier Raoux | Art Direction – Beata Brendtnerovà, Mick Lanaro, Laure Lepelley, Stanislas Reydellet | Costume Design – Marit Allen | Studio – Légende
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