By: Alex Phuong (Two Beers) –
One of the beauties of film is that it really is a universal language. Indeed, cinema has the power to use images and sounds to teach people about fundamental themes about life itself. Films not in English can still impact audiences in spite of possible language barriers, and can even introduce viewers to foreign cultures that truly make the world diverse. One great example of a foreign film that earned recognition is the modern French classic La Vie en Rose because of how it reveals that life really can be beautiful despite the bleakness of reality.
This film features one of the most brilliant Oscar-winning performances of all time. Marion Cotillard rose to fame thanks to her miraculous ability to bring Édith Piaf to life in this unconventional biopic. Her performance is so phenomenal that even Cate Blanchett admitted that she voted for Marion Cotillard even though Blanchett herself was nominated that same year for playing Queen Elizabeth I in the sequel Elizabeth: The Golden Age. Cotillard basically swept all of the leading actress categories during awards season that year just because her performance was “fantastique” (as the French would say). Indeed, this film really is a modern classic simply because Marion Cotillard really did honor the legacy of one of the greatest French chanteuses of all time!
Even with such a great performance, the storytelling is a bit sloppy. As previously mentioned, this biopic is unconventional because the plot is not linear. That can make the film somewhat confusing, and even more so for people who do not speak French or are unaware of French culture. Nevertheless, the film still showcases the (mostly) true story of Édith Piaf even though it is a bit hard to comprehend at times. Film is still a universal language, though, so it is still possible to learn about this French icon through this foreign language motion picture.
This might not be the greatest French film of all time, but it still does its best to capture the complex life of one of the most famous French figures to have achieved global recognition. Maybe the reason why the plot is complex is to highlight the fact that Édith Piaf really did have a difficult life. It also helped make Marion Cotillard the actress she is today (as of 2018), and allowed her to expand her film career that includes roles that were either in English, French, or a combination of both. After winning the Oscar, some people felt that Ellen Page (the star of Juno) was robbed, but this performance must be seen in order to understand why Marion Cotillard really is one of the best actresses in contemporary cinema.
La Vie en Rose (2007) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time Édith Piaf sings
Take a Drink: for every time jump given the plot’s non-linear structure
And Cheers: as Édith Piaf sings “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” (which translates to “No, I regret nothing”)