The life story of singer Édith Piaf.
Release Year: 2007
Rating: 7.6/10 (30,881 voted)
Critic's Score: 66/100
Stars: Marion Cotillard, Sylvie Testud, Pascal Greggory
An un-chronological look at the life of the Little Sparrow, Édith Piaf (1915-1963). Her mother is an alcoholic street singer, her father a circus performer, her paternal grandmother a madam. During childhood she lives with each of them. At 20, she's a street singer discovered by a club owner who's soon murdered, coached by a musician who brings her to concert halls, and then quickly famous. Constant companions are alcohol and heartache. The tragedies of her love affair with Marcel Cerdan and the death of her only child belie the words of one of her signature songs, "Non, je ne regrette rien." The back and forth nature of the narrative suggests the patterns of memory and association.
Writers: Olivier Dahan, Isabelle Sobelman
(as Caroline Silhol)
Edith – 5 years old
Edith – 10 years old
The passionate life of Edith Piaf
Release Date: 14 February 2007
Filming Locations: Los Angeles, California, USA
Opening Weekend: €222,579
(18 February 2007)
(6 April 2008)
Did You Know?
To help portray Edith Piaf, Marion Cotillard shaved back her hairline and shaved off her eyebrows, which were later penciled in, to better resemble the singer.
During Edith's first date with Marcel, a sommelier comes from Marcel's right. Marcel tastes the wine, looks to his left, and tells the waiter that the wine is OK.
If you were to give advice to a woman, what would it be?
To a young girl?
To a child?
I'm coming to the conclusion that this is the best biopic I have ever seen
It is difficult to overstate the necessary calibre of a woman who was
raised in a filthy whorehouse, sung and slept on the street, travelled
with the circus, lost her child at 20, went blind for a time, was
wrongly accused of murder, struggled with a drug addiction and lost
other loved ones by the bucketload in her life, and still got up on
stage at the end of her life to sing "Je ne regrette rien". La Môme
documents each stage of Edith Piaf's life with creative direction and
an intense performance by its lead actress, Martion Cotillard.
Ultimately it is a film that curiously enough does not come down to
acting or story so much as it owes everything to its direction by
Olivier Dahan. Audiences have been divided thus far on his efforts as
they are somewhat unorthodox, but I believe he has truly done something
magical with what could have fallen prey to a by-the-numbers biopic
approach. In La Môme, the continuity is clipped and fragmentary at
several points in the film, with scene 2 melting into scene 1 as
opposed to vice versa. The story of Edith seems to fledge itself around
two or three story lines simultaneously her youth, her adulthood and
her last days.
Marion Cotillard, a personal favourite of mine, is perfect at each of
the aforementioned stages, having met the wonders of realistic make-up
but also clearly having connected with the character of Edith Piaf. As
a young singer she is fumbling and bird-like, but always with raw
intensity behind her performance. As an old lady (although from what I
understand she was never truly that old at the time of her death) she
has transformed into something else a kind of loud, hysterical diva
who is alternatively self-depreciative and overbearing, her youthful
humility having been quenched by years of alcohol abuse and her
bird-like body and gait having been crippled by rheumatism. Only once
does Cotillard vaguely emerge from her character, and it is toward the
end when Edith is sitting on a beach in California giving an interview.
The rest of the film she is wholly chameleon-like and indistinguishable
from la môme.
Certainly this type of tragicomic drama with all of its
poverty-stricken episodes and heart-rending tragedies is primed to
elicit an emotional response, but Dahan goes the extra mile in
polishing the story for audiences. It truly is a beautiful work of art,
coated with sweeping tracking shots á la Paul Thomas Anderson or Martin
Scorsese blended with shakycam to capture the fast, fickle pace of the
business, endlessly creative intercutting of continuity and
breathtaking scenes after another. When Piaf's beautiful hands have
been noted, a muted performance is given in which the camera only
focuses on her theatrics and hand gestures. Yet the best scene takes
place in Piaf's apartment some 2/3s into the film in which she is
waiting for her lover Marcel to fly in from Morocco. I shall give no
spoilers. The film is momentarily gray and depressing, only to jerk the
audience away from the misery and lose itself in a blossom-strewn
pictorial style whenever Piaf goes on stage.
La Môme is a one-woman-show in all respects, with Cotillard shamelessly
relegating every other cast member to the background with her emotional
intensity. But in all fairness supporting characters are not given much
screen time in the film, seemingly floating away from the central story
eventually, or dying in some tragedy, illustrating the lonely life of
its titular singer. La Môme needs to be seen to be believed, for it
unexpectedly floors all other musical biopics of recent years or
9 out of 10