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Film / La Vie en Rose

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La Vie en Rose (French title: La Môme) is a 2007 French film directed by Olivier Dahan. It is a romanticized biopic about the glorious and tragic life of French singer Édith Piaf, and stars Marion Cotillard in the leading role, for which she won the Oscar for best actress. It also became one of the only French films to win more than one Oscar, the other being for makeup. The international title comes from what is probably her most famous song, "La Vie en Rose" and the French title comes from her nickname, "la Môme Piaf".

The film's narrative structure is a largely non-linear series of key events from the life of Edith Piaf, many of which the audience ultimately learns are evoked as flashbacks from within Edith's own memory as she's dying. Despite the fractured narrative approach, the film is anchored at the beginning by predominance of elements from her childhood, and at the end with the events prior to and surrounding her death.

The film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adapted Out: Some important parts of Edith's life were not featured at all in the movie:
    • Her life during World War II and her father's death.
    • Her Age-Gap Romance, marriage and concerts with Théo Sarapo in her final years (he's barely mentioned at the end).
  • The Alcoholic: Edith drinks a lot, to say the least.
    • Louis Gassion (her father) too.
  • Best Friend: Simone Berteaut aka "Momone" (Sylvie Testud) to Edith.
  • Circus Brat: Edith grows up in a circus after being reclaimed by her father.
  • Drunken Song: Edith bursts into one with her father at some point.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: Just have a look at the American poster here.
    • In the actual movie, though, it's subverted somewhat. Some of the scenes set in Paris show the Eiffel Tower far off in the distance, as if to underscore that we are in the slums, not the touristy parts of the city.
  • Glasgow Grin: In one scene, young Edith and Titine draw a non-disfiguring Glasgow Grin on each other's face, with lipstick.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: There's an incident during Edith's childhood where one of the prostitues she lives with suffers a customer who wanted to "play doctor"; we're never shown exactly what it is he did to her but seeing her colleagues (including even the usually unflappable Madam) clutching themselves suggests You Do Not Want To Know.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Edith and her best friend, Simone Berteaut, nicknamed "Mômone" (played by Sylvie Testud).
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: All the women in the brothel, but Titine (Emmanuelle Seigner) in particular. She's a young troubled redhead prostitute who becomes emotionally attached to little Edith. She sings to, plays with, and tenderly cares for Edith through her job including an episode of keratitis-induced blindness that is healed through their prayers to St. Thérèse.
  • Idle Rich: How Edith mostly behaves once she's successful.
  • Like Mother, Like Daughter: Edith became a singer, like her mother, albeit a really successful one.
  • Oscar Bait: Once she is over 10, there is not a scene with Edith where she is not suffering from her alcoholism, drug addiction, or her many ailments and injuries. As the result it managed to snatch 2 Oscars - the only French film to do so. Plus a long list of other awards.
  • Parental Substitute: Titine, the prostitute who lovingly took care of Edith when she was a child, invokeduntil Edith's father came back to reclaim her.
  • Rags to Riches: From a poor little girl in the streets of Paris to an international star.
  • Rapid Aging: At the end of her life at age 47, Edith looks like she's in her 80's or more, because of her accidents, depression, chronic fatigue, rheumatoid arthritis and morphine abuse.
  • The Scapegoat: In 1936, Edith is wrongly accused of having killed Louis Leplée, her first manager. The police accusation doesn't last long but she's booed by her audiences for some time.
  • Street Urchin: Edith, at the beginning.
  • Temporary Blindness: A very young Edith becomes blind because of her keratitis. She recovers some time after a pilgrimage on the grave of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.
  • Title Drop:
    • For the French title, it happens when Louis Leplée (Gérard Depardieu) chooses Edith's stage name : "La Môme Piaf!".
    • When Edith sings "La Vie en Rose", for the international title.
  • The Unseen: Théo Sarapo (Edith's last husband) is barely mentioned at the end when Edith dies.