It hurts to see such a poor rendition of the popular French singer Edith Piaf. I’m not talking about the acting, I amn of course not talking about Marion Cotillard, that is amazing and which I will talk about in more detail later on. I am talking about a wasted opportunity to strengthen the legacy left by the French singer with a biopic worthy of her. Instead, it just ends up being frustrating on many levels.

To think that Edith Piaf had an interesting life, and it would have been a great story to tell. The problem may have been that there were too many things that could have been discussed, and picking the right ones still left them with a lot to talk about; her upbringing in a whore house, her life as a child in a traveling circus, her relationship with her father and her mother, her damned love life, her problems with drugs, her difficult personality and her relationship with the public. As well as that, the development of what would have become her unmistakable singing style, that forever tied her voice to a worldwide recognition of France and made her an artistic embassador for the country. A life filled with drama, a life filled with tragedy. There would have been enough to make a biopic that could have been more involving and more gripping even than Ray and certainly Walk the Line.

I would love to know what made director Dahan waste his and our time by making the plot so hard to follow. This doesn’t do the plot any good, there is too much going on. Also, it makes everything just seem so cold and distant. But what is more frustrating about it is that it wasn’t like the film had to compensate somehow for the lack of interest that this film could have come across as carrying. There is so much to talk about. And in the end, whoever knew nothing about Edith Piaf will be even more confused than before. I can hardly say that anyone could know about Edith Piaf by watching this film. This strongly decreases the film’s appeal to a larger audience, but also casts more shadows on the personality and artist of Edith Piaf instead of answering them. To top it off, it;s really hard to get into the film anyways, because the start is much too confusing for us to have even the slightest of notions as to what is going on in the film. We don’t know who the characters are, and so many of them enter and exit the scenes in the blink of an eye without us ever knowing what their relevance to the story was, or even what it was that happened to them anyways.

The frustration does not end there. Edith Piaf, worn down by the drug addictions and everything else that had happened in her life, died at 47, but looked like an eighty year old woman. This fact is terribly almost ignored by the filmmaker. By that, I do not mean that the make up department didn’t do a good job, on the contrary, it did a fantastic job. The thing is that I feel Dahan plays a little too much on this, and plays it in the wrong way. For starters, what is the point of putting dates every now and again, when really, you’re always going to be confused anyways by the non-chronological way the story is told. I only see one use in that, and that is to show that all of these events are well documented. Another thing is, why not state clearly what the cause of her ageing so badly and so prematurely was? Why not involve us a little more? I feel the audience has little chance to ever know when the scenes are happening chronologically, and I’m sorry for always bringing it up, but her ageing is another reason why the way the plot was brought to the screen shouldn’t have been so completely jumbled up. Didn’t Dahan ever watch the Godfather Part II?

That does not conclude my frustrations towards the film. It is too dark! I’m usually all for artistic choices, stylistic choices and choices that could seem unpopular. But after the first ten minutes, I was almost convinced there was something wrong with my television set. After a while, I realised that that was the way that it was shot. I’m going to have to use caps lock to emphasise my point THE START OF THE MOVIE IS CONFUSING ENOUGH THE WAY IT IS, TOLD IN NON CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER WITH HUNDERDS OF DIFFERENT CHARACTERS COMING AND GOING IN A BLINK OF AN EYE. NOT BEING ABLE TO SEE ANYTHING MAKES EVERYTHING EVEN HARDER TO UNDERSTAND.

Sorry about that, I do apologise, but I wanna make it clear, this is not an easy movie, and I don’t see how anyone could find it rewarding.

And yet there is something, there is an angel. Marion Cotillard is the actress the whole world should be talking about, and I’m not talking about because she won an Academy Award, but because I want to see her in something else. Her performance is superb, I would easily call it the best performance of any actress in the lead role in the last ten years. Sure, actors’ interest in any project seems to get bigger in a biopic, but there are good performances and bad performances in every movie. This, my friends, is a good performance. I mean, Edit Piaf was an eccentric artist, a cultural icon and overall, not exactly an easy character to portray. Well, Cotillard’s performance is the kind of performance that leaves you with no compliment big enough to praise it. The more I think about it, the more I feel sorry that one of the best female lead performances I have ever seen in my entire life is in a movie that cannot help but disappoint.

I should also say that the soundtrack is amazing. But that is thanks to Piaf, mainly. Those songs are beautiful. I wish the movie could have been as well.

WATCH FOR THE MOMENT – Leplee, Piaf’s first manager, is found dead. Everyone points their finger at Piaf, as she helplessly tries to espape the building.