One of my favorite actresses of all time is Giuletta Masina. People have often compared Masina’s comic acting performances to the female equivalent of Charlie Chaplin. I consider that a fair assertion, although naturally Masina’s big eyes are much more pleasurable to look at in comparison to Chaplin’s dirty Sanchez moustache. Marion Cotillard’s performance in La Vie en rose echoes back to the days of Giuletta Masina’s heartwarmingly cute performances in films like La Strada. In fact, during the whole experience of La Vie en rose I could not get enough of Ms. Cotillard. It is very hard to find a woman that is genuinely funny (or a man for that matter), but even harder to find a woman that is both funny and cute. Not that I care for Academy Awards or anything, but Marion Cotillard without question deserved the Oscar she received for her performance (the first ever given for a French-language performance).
Edith Piaf certainly deserves her cultural icon status as France’s greatest popular singer. Like your typical modern day Frenchman, Piaf was a mixture of ethnic backgrounds, certainly no Huguenot. Piaf’s rise from the gutter was to her talent’s advantage, giving rise to an organic emotional voice that lacked any type of pretension, going against the French stereotype of unwarranted cultural arrogance. In La Vie en rose, Marion Cotillard is her most passionate when swooning over her French Algerian boxer boyfriend Marcel. Edith has not interest in psycho-babbling over existentialism or rambling about New Left politics, she just wants to sing and party. She may have been friends with the great poet Jean Cocteau and other important French culture figures, yet that never seemed to inflate her ego. Even when Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf has aged and stars looking fairly decrepit, she still expresses the same spunk that made her magical in the first place.
La Vie en rose is one of the few contemporary French films worth watching multiple times. The film is also evidence that a French film does not have to feature decadent and nihilistic sex for it to be notable. The sex appeal of Marion Cotillard permeates throughout without the actress having to shred a layer of clothing. I cannot express how boring nudity has gotten in cinema, especially in Europeans films, an unflattering post-ww2 result of the European film industries having to prostitute themselves out just to get by in the world market. As shown in La Vie en rose, fortunately for Edith Piaf her best money commodity was her voice and not her body.