Monday, April 14, 2008
La Môme (2007)
(Image from IMP Awards)
La Môme (2007)
This biopic of French singing icon Édith Piaf is mostly notable for one thing, and that's the performance of Marion Cotillard as the titular character. Her performance is incredible, and it rises above everything else in the film. The make up (including the old age stuff) is excellent and doesn't distract, and Cotillard simply becomes a character brought to life vividly and memorably. She portrays Poaf as a vivacious but also sometimes shy and naive woman who endured a great deal of hardship throughout her life, ultimately transforming through experience and substance abuse into a cantankerous and tired shadow of her former self. The rest of the performances are, well, peripheral at best, which actually becomes a problem because it's sometimes hard to figure out who's who. This is partly as a result of the film's strange, unnecessary structure where it jumps back and forth in time, sometimes confusingly. I suppose it tries to avoid the conventional biopic structure that feels like a 'Cliff notes' of someone's life, but the trick doesn't really work and ends up being more annoying than anything else. Maybe there's some significance to it that I missed, but I can't imagine what it could be.
The film is successful in creating atmospheric reconstructions of different eras, and the production values are pretty good. The music is, of course, terrific and a major part of the film, though it's not really to my taste. Though I will confess that the appearance of 'Non, je ne regrette rien' towards the end is affecting. There are some wonderful scenes in the film, and it is often moving even when the weight of tragic occurrences begins to make the whole thing more than a little depressing, perhaps unnecessarily so. It's the music and the magnetic personality that keep it going, however, and the end result is a very good biopic that probably would probably be just OK were it not for Cotillard's bravura performance, which alone makes the film worth recommending.