La Vie en Rose

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
La Vie en Rose Movie Poster Image
French Edith Piaf biopic sings one lady's blues.
  • PG-13
  • 2007
  • 140 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 7 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Full of question marks: Piaf was a disturbed soul who ran around with a rough crowd, including mobsters. Parents abandon their children and beg for money from them; women service men for pay; lots of drinking and drug use; Piaf sings to earn enough francs to eat and get inebriated. Despite the setbacks, Piaf does seem to find respite in her singing, and she manages to lift herself out of poverty through her talents.

Violence

A man hits Piaf; screaming fights and fisticuffs in bars; insults are hurled; drunken tantrums have characters throwing objects; Piaf crashes a car while driving drunk; a prostitute is physically violated by a client; a fairly extended boxing scene includes lots of punches.

Sex

Piaf grows up among prostitutes in a brothel, and their "business" is portrayed here, including fleeting scenes of half-naked men wandering the halls, sado-masochism (a woman is bound to a bed), and violence (another is physically violated by her client). Some kissing and groping, but few actual sex scenes. One scene shows Piaf in bed with a lover, under covers.

Language

Surprisingly mild, though certainly not clean, considering the subject. Some uses of "s--t" and "bastard" (in subtitles).

Consumerism

Not too much, save for mention of specific song titles.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A nearly endless parade of alcohol and drug use; Piaf and her friends loved to drink. Later, Piaf and some of her cohorts turn to morphine, and there are scenes of intravenous use, with bloody syringes in full view.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that most kids probably won't be clamoring to see this subtitled biopic about French singer Edith Piaf. Which may be just as well, since her life was difficult, and the movie doesn't skimp on the details of her powerful alcohol and drug addictions. Young teens might need guidance understanding why she's so dependent. Older teens may be able to handle these themes (though there are explicit scenes of intravenous use), but they could still be confounded by both how Piaf was abandoned and mistreated by her parents, relatives, and friends. Though there's a sense that Edith triumphed over adversity, the relentless tragedies may be overwhelming. Expect some swearing and sex (Piaf grows up among prostitutes).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byteadrinkingmama April 9, 2008

dark and depressing....

I don't know what all the hype about this movie was about...i thought it dreadfully depressing and I couldn't wait for it to end. I kept thinking it... Continue reading
Adult Written bykt4936 April 9, 2008
A very good film about a very complex and confusing woman. Marion Cotillard definitely deserved her Oscar.
Teen, 14 years old Written bysurbhi April 9, 2008
Teen, 13 years old Written bySanjay407 December 21, 2011

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Change: Rated R: Violence, Sexuality, Language, and Very Strong Drug Use

What's the story?

Set in a gritty early 20th-century Paris, the biopic LA VIE EN ROSE delves into the life of Edith Piaf, the 1930s French chanteuse whose stirring songs of love's joys and sorrows made her a household name. Piaf endured a punishingly painful life -- abandoned by her mother, neglected by a circus-performer father, raised partly by prostitutes, used by boyfriends, discovered by a nightclub owner (Gérard Depardieu) who then is killed, heartbroken by the death of a child, hobbled by a morphine addiction, dead at 47 -- the tiny Piaf (aka "the Little Sparrow") had little to celebrate except for her enormous, wondrous voice. So when the chance for true happiness with boxer Marcel Cerdan (Jean-Pierre Martins) -- is dashed forever, it's nothing short of devastating. And then, of course, there's her music, which aptly takes center stage. "Non, je ne regrette rien," she sings ("I regret nothing"), and how noble, how sad those words seem.

Is it any good?

Writer/director Olivier Dahan's biopic is beautifully filmed and grippingly told. As played by Marion Cotillard (in an Oscar-winning performance), Piaf is complicated and compelling, the stuff of legend. But although it's impressive, the film fails to bring viewers close enough to its subject. Bounding from one moment to the next, from present to past to present once more, it reveals but doesn't illuminate.

Whether Piaf herself was that impenetrable or the film just isn't long enough (even though it's over two hours), something doesn't quite click. What's shown on screen leaves viewers feeling removed -- knowing much about Piaf but not knowing her at all. We see what she does, but we don't quite understand why (although we have our guesses). It makes for a slightly frustrating cinematic experience. Which isn't to say that you won't be moved.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Piaf's addictions. Why do you think she turned to alcohol and drugs? Did she have any other way to cope with her troubles? What about her singing? How did the media portray her rise and fall? Was Piaf beloved by her fans, warts and all? If she had become famous today, how would the media cover her addictions? Would they harm or help her celebrity?

Movie details

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