Within Olivier Dahans La Vie En Rose is a pulsating centre of flighty ambitions and emotional veracity, traits most biopics veer towards but hardly ever achieve due to sheer aggrandising and bromidic posturing. But with Edith Piaf, a film any less operatic would be a disservice to a story as wrenching and gripping as one of the most revered starlets of hers and our time.
As with most performances dealing with a person living or dead, allowances need to be taken with each of them in order to astute whether these performances are merely approximated imitations or studies of calculated poise with an emphasis on striking the right notes to reveal something more than just the particulars. Its made all the more harder to distinguish when were inundated with casual hyperbole that pervades a cultural aptitude to associate a fantastic performance with middling films just contented enough to revolve around it. While an awesome performance makes a film good, it does not necessarily make it great.
Theres no possible way not to admire Marion Cotillards career-defining turn as Edith Piaf, already in the process of being made a central reason for the film to exist. But La Vie En Rose is much more than just a brilliant perfomance of a woman so singular in being. It is a rarity among biopics with an intuitiveness to relent more than just a rehash of the inextricably linked truisms of addiction, talent and tragedy but has a creative fecundity to sanctify the cruel defiance of a woman quite sustained in her sadness through a poignant apogee that beseeched nothing more than appreciation.
Piaf was never more incandescent than she was performing, and Dahan dutifully evocates her music as an extension of her life with each word significant to song and person. And representing the timeless quality of her music, a storytelling method that eschews standard chronology by gliding across the many defining moments of her ravaged existence is told through a fluid screenplay that understands and values the conventions (childhood turmoil, adult adversity and eventual triumph) of a blockbuster biopic.
La Vie En Rose remains truly elegant from start to end with a design that closely approaches transcendence of structure by constraining the minute facts and circumstances (if you need the details, go to Wikipedia) of the iconoclastic chanteuse by beautifully embodying her bewilderment and melancholy with staggering grace and compassion that to truly acknowledge her life is to be blessed with her fragile humanity.