Standing Ovations for ‘La Môme’

I’ve just read through today’s online press covering last night’s premiere of ‘La Môme’. German journalists reported that it got standing ovations. Some loved the emotional portrayal of tragic French singer Edith Piaf. Others didn’t. But everyone loved Marion Cotillard’s performance. One newspaper compared her transformation as the French singer to Charlize Theron’s performance in ‘Monster’ – that got her the Golden Bear in Berlin. Similar Predictions for Marion Cotillard are not rare.

Marion also got praise from the industry’s leading paper Variety (click for full film review): “Versatile, always spot-on thesp Marion Cotillard surpasses herself as the waiflike French songbird whose personal traumas fueled her art. Cotillard nails the assignment, portraying Piaf at 20 to Piaf on her deathbed with a range of gestures, her trademark posture, and a core of eternal hurt melded with ferocious pride. She embodies Piaf’s raspy speaking voice, her imperious street-wise attitude, her simple joy at being lionized by other celebs, and the taste of artistic triumph mixed with the constant hum of genuine tragedy.”Variety (2): “On the other hand, the opening pic was from France, not from Hollywood, a fact which might too have dampened the enthusiasm of the bystanders. As a rule, Gallic films do not enthrall German moviegoers…. The center of attention for the paparazzi though was naturally Marion Cotillard, the gamine star of the Gallic contender for the Golden Bear, “La Vie en Rose.” Cotillard plays French chanteuse Edith Piaf, taking the character from her tough teenage years through to her death at age 47. The singing in the movie is left to Piaf, or rather vintage recordings of the singer, but Cotillard carried off the acting challenge convincingly. In this case, the Germans viewing a Gallic movie seemed moved by the experience.”

The Hollywood Reporter (1): “The film is messy the way Piaf’s life was messy: It’s unafraid of extravagant gestures even when they fail to come off. “La Vie en rose” aims at a broad international audience with a mix of Piaf standards, doomed romance and a larger-than-life, self-destructive heroine. Thanks to an extraordinarily brave performance by Marion Cotillard, whose every gesture and singing performance channels not only Piaf but perhaps a bit of Judy Garland, the film should have wide adult appeal. Critics will be divided about the filmmaking, especially its more self-conscious aspects, but Cotillard’s performance and the film’s fervent, romantic belief that misery can be turned into art will connect with many age groups, especially among women.”

The Hollywood Reporter (2): “French actress Marion Cotillard emerged radiant in Berlin on Thursday from her physically demanding — sometimes even disfiguring — portrayal of Gallic songstress Edith Piaf in opening film “La Vie en Rose.” Cotillard was welcomed at a packed afternoon press conference to applause and several calls of “Bravo!” for her tour-de-force performance in the competition movie directed by Olivier Dahan. “It’s a magnificent role for me. I had to play Piaf from age 19 to 47,” the actress said. “Olivier and I wanted to do more than just an impersonation of Piaf: We wanted to give her life. I used a sort of immersion technique. The films in which she acted helped enormously to study her gestures.” Cotillard said she’d had a good deal of apprehension about playing the role, especially since Piaf had “a physique of someone who was 70 when she was 47.” Besides mimicking Piaf’s distinctively powerful singing style and capturing her rasping voice, Cotillard is required to portray drug addiction, arthritis, a disfiguring slouch and general failing health.

“Several scenes were very difficult, like the scene in which she dies. If you lay it on too much, it gets ridiculous.” But it was miming to Piaf’s singing voice that was hardest. “That’s what took the most work, because if it’s done badly, you come out of the film.” Cotillard said that after four months in the skin of the diminutive warbler, it took a while for her to readjust. “If you walk with a cane for four months, it’s not easy to walk straight afterwards,” she said.”

Reuters also has a report about the event: “Piaf is played by French actress Marion Cotillard, whose performance is already being lauded by the critics. Wearing a flesh-colored dress, she braved freezing temperatures and a light snowfall at the premiere in central Berlin, where she was joined by co-stars and members of the jury including Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal.”

Edith Piaf’s magical voice has cast its spell over Berlin, where the annual film festival opened on Thursday with a moving portrayal of the tiny singer whose life was tainted by tragedy.

“La Vie En Rose” was the first of 26 films to screen in the main competition, 22 of which are eligible for the coveted Golden Bear awarded on February 17.

The evening world premiere kicked off 10 frenetic days of screenings, interviews and parties for movie makers and the media, and Berlin’s rapidly expanding film market also hoped to cement its reputation as a key place for studios to do business.

“La vie en rose,” called “La mome” (“The Kid”) in France, was a fitting opening to a competition featuring four French films, including the closing movie “Angel”.

Piaf is played by French actress Marion Cotillard, whose performance is already being lauded by the critics.

Wearing a flesh-colored dress, she braved freezing temperatures and a light snowfall at the premiere in central Berlin, where she was joined by co-stars and members of the jury including Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal.

Cotillard portrays the singer from the age of around 20 to her death at 47, from the highs of international fame and a passionate affair to the lows of loneliness, death, illness and drink and drug dependency.

“It wasn’t just an imitation of Edith Piaf,” Cotillard told reporters. “I wanted to do more than that — I wanted to bring her to life and we all did that together.”

She said Piaf had the power to touch people to this day.

“She always was very modern and I think she still manages to reach even younger generations, she still moves them.”

Cotillard lip-synched over original Piaf recordings, and the soundtrack featured many of her most famous songs including “Non, je ne regrette rien,” “La vie en rose” and “Milord.”

Scenes from the second half of her life were interspersed with flashbacks to Piaf’s impoverished childhood, much of it spent in a brothel where she lost her sight for several years.


Hollywood sees Berlin as a useful launching pad for European releases of films already out in the United States, helping festival director Dieter Kosslick attract the likes of Clint Eastwood and Robert De Niro to the red carpet this year.

They are expected to be joined by Sharon Stone, Lauren Bacall, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett and Jennifer Lopez.

True to its reputation for hard-hitting, arthouse cinema, the festival this year includes films about the conflict in the Middle East, World War Two, apartheid in South Africa and murder in Mexico.

Among the highlights are likely to be “300,” Zack Snyder’s film based on a Frank Miller comic, “Irina Palm,” starring Marianne Faithfull as a widow who accepts a job in a sex club and “Angel,” about a young woman in early 20th century England.

Asia is well represented with four competition entries, include “Lost in Beijing” from China and “I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK,” a South Korean entry featuring pop star Rain in his movie debut.

Hundreds more features are screening outside the main competition, among them “Interview” by Dutch director Theo Van Gogh, who was murdered in 2004 by an Islamic militant after making a film accusing Islam of suppressing women.

It stars British actress Sienna Miller in what Screen International magazine calls her “breakthrough performance.”


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