The best biopic you missed in 2007

There are certain attributes all biopics about musicians must possess, lest the universe implode: a lead character whose artistic spirit is forged by adversity; a non-linear narrative that jumps forward and backward without warning; and lots of substance abuse. La Vie en Rose, director Olivier Dahan’s cinematic portrait of Edith Piaf, doesn’t deviate from this formula enough to threaten the time-space continuum, yet it still delivers a story of a performer’s life that feels fresh and compelling.

The film’s success begins and ends with Marion Cotillard, the unknown (to American audiences) actress who plays the legendary chanteuse from a reckless 20-year-old street musician to a 40-something invalid so hobbled by drug use she looks likes she’s 70. The real Piaf’s life was filled with enough misery for three movies – a childhood spent in brothels and on the streets; the untimely death of almost everyone she held dear – yet Cotillard’s seemingly effortless portrayal never lets the movie slip into melodrama. When she sings “Je Ne Regrette Rien” (“I Don’t Regret Anything”), you’ll believe every word of it.

WATCH the trailer for La Vie en Rose

WATCH the real Edith Piaf perform “La Vie en Rose”

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