Can I just start by asking if it is written into law with the French Film Industry that in order for a film to be made, it MUST star Gerard Depardieu... he's in bloody everything. Sacre Bleu!
In many ways this is your typical by-the-numbers celebrity biopic that charts the many highs and lows, in this case many lows, of Edith Piaf.
What saves it from mediocrity is the performance of Marion Cotillard. Not only is she one of the most beautiful women in the world, has a voice that could make a wolverine purr, but was also the only watchable thing in the terrible musical Nine. She was certainly more deserving of an Oscar nomination for that film than Penelope Cruz.
Speaking of Oscar, she won Best Actress for her performance as 'The Little Sparrow' with the big voice, and she is truly astonishing as Piaf, playing her from a teenager to the frail women who died at the age of 48.
Now Oscar loves nothing more than when actors play real people and Piaf's life gives Cotillard the opportunity to express the entire range of human emotions from the joy of her initial success to the anguish of the death of her lover to the pain of her illness.
It also gives her the chance to 'make herself ugly' and undergo a physical transformation, which of course worked wonders for Charlize Theron in Monster.
In all the celebrity biopics out there, they always feature scenes where the person breaks down due to problems with drink, drugs, people, success, etc. You never see films about straight-edged celebrities who lived a nice quiet life and were a goody two-shoes. And why? Because it wouldn't make a very exciting movie. You need conflict.
The main conflict that I have now with this film is with Piaf's most iconic song 'Non Je Ne Regrette Rien'. The conflict lies in its use by Christopher Nolan and Hans Zimmer as the trigger song in Inception, especially as the film stars Marion Cotillard.
The film ends with this song and features images of Piaf on her death bed and because of the way my mind works, I was wondering when the 'kick' was going to come and she wakes up from the dream!
Top 5 acting performances by musicians
1. Mark Wahlberg in The Departed
2. David Bowie in Labyrinth
3. Will Smith in Ali
4. Justin Timberlake in The Social Network
5. Stacy Ferguson in Planet Terror