Sunday, January 11, 2009

LA MÔME (Olivier Dahan, 2007, France) I didn’t know much about Edith Piaf before watching this film. I’ve always found her voice to be sadly beautiful and connected to the passion in her songs…and I don’t understand a word of French! This is a very good film. The performances are top notch but I was most impressed by the direction; specifically Dahan’s use of the steadicam for long protracted lazy camera movements (very Kubrick-like) that embrace the characters intimately. The film’s structure jumps backwards and forwards in time which gives us an insight into Edith’s own fractured personality. Dahan’s uses of bleak subdued colors in her earlier years are in stark contrast to the oversaturated golden hues of her glory days. My only complaint is this: the film holds Edith Piaf in such iconic regard that we really never see her as a person; we see her only as she relates to her talent. I suppose this could be intentional because she probably could not separate the two but I thought the film a bit superficial. But one subdued moment really struck a true chord with me; as Edith sits alone on the beach knitting and we experience her away from the trappings of success. She is interviewed by a young reporter and Edith speaks mostly of love and flashes a brilliantly sublime smile…it was very touching and where the heart of this film beats. Marion Cotillard is able to rise above the sometimes mundane script and her brilliant performance should capture the Oscar. (B)

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