I watched La Vie en Rose last night. The movie about Édith Piaf starring Marion Cotillard as the famed French singer. What a life Édith lived. What a crazy, devastating, glorious, and epic life. I was expecting a nice, subtle period movie about the upper crust French culture, about fame, and, of course, about the life of Édith Piaf. Something to prepare me before I go to France this weekend. About 75% of my expectations were disproven. This movie was not particularly subtle in plot line. In acting, yes. Marion Cotillard's performance was outstanding. A guttural, authentic portrayal filled with raw passion. The movie trailer shows a quote from Stephen Holding, from the New York Times: "the most astonishing immersion of another performer into the body and soul of another I've ever encountered in a film."
But the story of Édith's life is anything but a subtle, upper crust life. The tile is quite misleading. Call me ignorant, I was, but I had no idea of the troubles and trauma she had gone through. And watching that movie, I don't think I've ever more genuinely, albeit vicariously, experienced how hard the adversities of life can be. However, despite everything, the countless maladies and hospitals, the devastating losses, the vulgar poverty, the cruel separation from those she loved most dearly, I believe that Édith still remained innocent. Or rather, she yearned for an innocence denied to her. Her experiences of course made her wise, aged her with unnecessary burdens. But yet she clung on for her life onto that pure idea of love, and she lived her life, however impossible, with unwavering, unpolished, and candid love. If anything, this is what "La Vie en Rose" refers to. This steadfast and undiluted approach to life.
I think my favorite scene might be the one where she goes to the beach in South France. She's older, more withered, hunched over, with an orange puff of hair on her head and some yarn and needles in her hand. After waving to the lifeguard she sits on the sand knitting, watching the waves roll in the sea. And then a young woman, a journalist, comes to interview her, the questions seeming so naive: What is your favorite color? What is your favorite dish? Blue, pot roast. Édith answers them all with a little smile on her face, short and simple, in a tone that somehow blends the heart of a child with that of and old soul. A young heart and a wise mind. Finally, the interviewer asks: What's the most important thing for an adult to know? For a woman? A child? A baby? Édith answers them all the same: To love.
A diamond in the rough, but an uncut one at that, Édith Piaf blazed through the dark universe of the world, a shooting star born from dirt and dust. She never compromised herself, stubbornly resisting the influences of others. She never let the beatings and abuses of life keep her down. In short, elle ne regrette rien.