Marion Cotillard delivers a stunning performance in this biopic of French singer Edith Piaf.
Edith Piaf didn't have the best life. She was a small sickly child who grew up in her grandmother's bordello before living at the circus with her father, eventually having to become a street performer, where her lovely voice is discovered. As expected, she eventually becomes famous, and has to deal with drug addiction, love, and her failing health.
The film tells the life of the singer in a non-linear way, which may be confusing to some to see the young Edith, then cut to an older arthritic Edith, but it eventually works out to the film's wonderful conclusion, which is much more of an emotional payoff than simply following her life until her eventual death.
The sets and costumes used in this film are rich and beautiful, perfectly capturing the wealthy lifestyle Edith finds for herself through her music. The make-up is insanely good, making Marion Cotillard's life spanning performance seem totally believable as we see her grow older and older.
The film ultimately works because of Cotillard's beautiful (and Oscar winning) performance as the singer. She fully embodies every stage of life she must portray. Her 20 ear old Edith is bubbly and full of life while her older Edith is hunched over and weak, wise from the hardknock life she is lived. Some have said her performance is melodramatic, which is true, but the character is portrayed so that it works. She's been a performer since the age of 9, she lives through emotions and feelings, so it makes sense for there to be a lack of emotional subtlety in someone who spends their life tapping into their feelings for the sake of performing. It's a haunting performance that is emotionally affecting. When we see her happy, we cannot help but smile and when we see her sad, our hearts break with her as Marion Cottilard delivers an astonishing performance that paints Edith Piaf as a fully realized, multi-faceted individual. We see her pettiness, her selfishness, her kindness, her humor, her warmth, and her charm. We see all of it while Marion Cotillard guides us through the life of the French singer.
It's a wonderful film, and the lead performance is something that must be seen.