2007_06_arts_lavieenrose.jpgLa Vie En Rose
(directed by Olivier Dahan and Sebastien Caudron)

At the end of her life Edith Piaf sang that she didn't regret anything and after you see her story played out in La Vie En Rose, you realize that's really saying something. An icon of French music whose voice instantly evokes the good life in sun-dappled Parisian street cafes, Piaf came from extreme poverty and with her immense talent became a huge international star. Marion Cotillard gives a phenomenal performance as Piaf, fully inhabiting the 4' 8" dynamo whose unconventional looks but killer pipes got her the nickname sparrow, or "piaf" in French. You may remember Cotillard as the fetching ingenue opposite Russell Crowe in A Good Year but you'd hardly recognize her in this role--which of course means she's destined for major Oscar buzz.

Besides Cotillard's performance though, Piaf's story itself is fascinating, practically crying out for a biopic. Her mother and father impoverished performers, Piaf was dropped off on her grandmother's doorstep as a young child to be raised by her and the kindly prostitutes in the brothel she ran. At 8, Piaf contracted conjunctivitis and went blind briefly. Reunited with her Dad, she began singing on the street for money, was discovered by an nightclub impresario only to see her small bit of fame disappear briefly before her final big break into stardom. Not to mention the many lovers, the drug use and the famous friends that made Piaf's life tabloid fodder. Through it all though Piaf made gorgeous music, even when her feeble health seemed to be betraying her. Nearly every expertly lip synced performance in this movie is enough to have you weeping through a whole box of Kleenex. If you love movies like Ray or Walk the Line which seek to give you insight into the people who made our most iconic popular music, you'll go gaga for La Vie En Rose.

Other new movies gracing theaters this week include the third installment in Steven Soderbergh's A-List caper series Ocean's 13, the animated penguin flick Surf's Up, Eli Roth's sequel to his horror hit Hostel: Part II and the documentary about troubled musician Roky Erickson of The 13th Floor Elevators You're Gonna Miss Me.