La Vie en Rose

May 31st, 2008

I note that my posts have been getting longer and longer lately, therefore just a quicky. I saw La Vie en Rose the other day, French film about the life of singer Edith Piaf. My wife was going to watch it, I was going to work. I saw the first five minutes, hanging around at the back of the living room, ended up staying for the whole thing. Brilliant film.

The central performance from (rightly oscar winning, quite an achievement for a non-English film) Marion Cotillard is magnificent. In biopics the central actor will typically be convincing at a certain age, then look like a young bloke with naff prosthetics as the old person, or a middle aged actor very, very strongly lit as the young one. In this she is equally completely convincing as teenaged street-singer, as the performer at the height of her powers, and as the dying, illness racked old woman (though not actually that old). Gerard Depardieu is amazing as always, even in a minor role. That guy can do more with one look than most actors manage in a career.

The film is also a real triumph of editing. It darts back and forward from moments late in her life, to her childhood, to the middle and back, moving ever more quickly as it works up to the climax. This sort of technique can sometimes seem pretentious, pointless, adding nothing beyond what might have been there were the film told in chronological order. Here they use it brilliantly to make connections between the different parts of her life, and rather than repeating glimpses from earlier scenes as she remembers her past life – which would have been the obvious thing to do – they always show something new, adding deeper layers of meaning and understanding. Characters drift in and out without the plodding explanation you might expect in a Hollywood treatment of the subject matter. It isn’t always clear exactly who they are, but it doesn’t really matter. It makes the film amazingly compact for the ground it covers.

I’ve been raving about a lot of things lately. It’s not like me. Usually I hate everything and I don’t care who knows it. But there just doesn’t seem much point writing posts in order to draw people’s attention to the average, the mediocre, and indeed the downright bad. Unless it’s my own work, of course. A-ha-ha-HAH.

Rating? A magisterial 9.

Posted in film and tv by Joe Abercrombie on May 31st, 2008. Tags:

3 comments so far

  • Ady Hall says:

    Another glowing review from the ‘warm and cuddly’ Joe. Not a scathe or snark in sight!

    Am looking forward to this movie – the clips from last year look great – and the main leads performance absolutely riveting!

  • I’m surprised you totally failed to mention your continuing guest appearances in SFX contributing worldly advice to first-time writers (“Ah young ones, gather round and listen to my sage advice,”). Very cool to see Gillian in the mag as well this month!

  • Hi Joe. I also just recently watched this, and wanted to chime in with agreement. The film itself was beautiful, lush, and, given that it was French, refreshingly low on the absolutely-bizarre-in-a-creepy-way quotient (The Piano Teacher, anyone?). And Marion Cotillard was stunningly good. Wow.

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