La Vie en Rose (La Môme) (2007)

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Released 7-Feb-2008

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Making Of- Full Frame (25:54) Optional English Subtitles.
Deleted Scenes-Full Frame (10:09) Optional English Subtitles.
Featurette-Edith Piaf in New York - Full Frame (12:43)
Featurette-Edith Piaf, that obscure object of desire (26:49)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 134:29
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Olivier Dahan
Studio
Distributor
Legende Entreprises
Icon Entertainment
Starring Marion Cotillard
Sylvie Testud
Pascal Greggory
Emmanuelle Seigner
Jean-Paul Rouve
Gérard Depardieu
Clotilde Courau
Jean-Pierre Martins
Catherine Allégret
Marc Barbé
Caroline Sihol
Manon Chevallier
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Christopher Gunning


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French dts 5.1 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

Olivier Dahan’s La Môme (literally The Kid) (2007), presents an extravagant portrait of one of the greatest singers of the last century, the enigmatic and unmistakable Edith Piaf. La Môme was titled La vie en rose (Life in Pink) outside of France, referring to Piaf’s signature song of the same name.

Most of Edith Piaf’s life remains a mystery but Dahan has created a wonderful tribute to the cultural icon.

Born into poverty in Belleville, Paris, Édith Giovanna Gassion is abandoned by her mother, a café singer. Her father a street acrobat, unable to provide for his sickly daughter, asks his mother who runs a Normandy brothel to take care of her. Within this house of sin, young Edith is taken care of by the young prostitutes and in particular, the fictional and almost mythical character of Titine (Emmanuelle Seigner), who treats Edith as her own daughter. During the ages of three to seven, young Edith loses her vision as a result of keratitis. Titine and Edith continuously pray to Saint Thérèse de Lisieux for her sight to be returned and Edith is miraculously healed. Young Edith returns into the care of her father and it is at age fourteen while her father performs in the streets of Paris, she reluctantly sings for survival, the crowds are wowed by voice of the young girl, her father proudly looks on and Edith is given a reason to smile. In her late-teens Edith (Marion Cotillard) begins to sing on her own on the Parisian streets, assisted by her mischievous friend Mômone (Sylvie Testud). A portion of the money Edith earns from singing is reluctantly given to her boyfriend Albert (Dominique Bettenfeld) to avoid being forced into prostitution.

Hope for Edith comes in the guise of the father figure of Louis Leplée (Gérard Depardieu), who christens Edith, La Môme Piaf (Little Sparrow), in reference to her short stature (147 cm) and what would become her standard stage costume, a simple black dress. Edith can once again smile, as she sings to the patrons of Louis Leplée’s popular nightclub Le Gerny. Edith also meets Marguerite Monnot (Marie-Armelle Deguy) at the nightclub, a songwriter and composer she would collaborate with for most of her life. Yet tragically Leplée is murdered and Edith is accused of being an accessory due to the shady characters of her past. Despite being acquitted of the charges she is held in a negative light by the public.

During this dark time, another figure of hope appears in Edith’s life both romantically and professionally, Raymond Asso (Marc Barbé).Asso reforms Edith – tells her she needs to live and breathe what she is singing and his belief in Edith is so strong that he often seems cruel, but it is he who will place Edith Piaf on the international stage and allow the world to see the magnificence and power of her talent.

Dahan’s film is a feverish dream, many of the childhood sequences and the events of Piaf's later isolated life are revealed simultaneously – the scenes are joined by an emotion and a sentiment rather then time frame. This sort of exposition may confuse some audiences, as Dahan briefly runs through a number of events in Piaf’s short but colourful life out of chronological order – for example the birth of her only child Marcelle who died from meningitis at age two and her personal friendships with Maurice Chevalier, Jean Cocteau, Jacques Borgeat, Yves Montand, Charles Aznavour and Marlene Dietrich. Piaf’s ill-fated lover affair with the married boxer Marcel Cerdan is also explored (this relationship was also the subject of Claude Lelouch’s 1983 film, Édith et Marcel) as is her poor health, a result of breaking two ribs in a near-fatal car-crash and a subsequent morphine and alcohol addiction. In the final months of her life Piaf slipped in and out of consciousness and as a result Dahan’s film is an emotionally exhausting portrait of a woman looking at her life, her trials and tribulations, her loves and her tortured existence with passion and humanity. The film ends not with Piaf’s untimely death, but her debut performance of Non, je ne regrette rien (No, I regret nothing) at the Olympia in November, 1960.

The film is a certain triumph for Dahan, he has taken much care in adapting Piaf’s life for the screen and his only choice for the difficult role of Piaf was Marion Cotillard. What can be said of Cotillard’s performance which has not been said before – it is truly mesmerising. Cotillard does not imitate Piaf but instead has embodied her spirit. Her performance has been nominated for an Oscar, a Bafta film award, a Critic’s Choice award, a César, a Screen Actors Guild award and many more. Recently Cotillard was the recipient of the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture.

The critically acclaimed film La Môme is perhaps one of the best films of 2007 and a tribute to a woman whose art and life created a legend.

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Transfer Quality

Video

La Môme is presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen and it is 16x9 enhanced.

The transfer has been encoded at the average bit-rate of 4.78 Mbps over a dual layer DVD.

Tetsuo Nagata’s cinematography, Olivier Raoux’s production design, the late Marit Allen’s costume design and Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald's makeup is absolutely exquisite.

The grain and muted colours are an artistic choice and have been rendered increasingly well on this PAL release.

The hand-held sequences are also replicated well as the image remains sharp and focused. There is no evident colour bleeding and only mild MPEG compression artefacts in some of the scenes with minimal lighting, namely the early childhood sequences which are lit by candle light.

The English subtitles are burnt onto the print of the film in a white text which appears on the lower part of the widescreen image. A number of the songs are translated in English. Dates and locations appear burnt onto the print in English.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

There are three audio options available – a French DTS 5.1 soundtrack, a French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and a French Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. Each soundtrack is very good in most respects.

There are a number of environments in the film such as the intimate yet occupied bars, as well as the crowded Parisian streets and the full to capacity concert halls and the soundscape of each environment is replicated well.

The dialogue is clear and detailed without any distortion. There are no audio synchronisation issues.

A few readers have identified an issue with the DTS soundtrack (see comments below).

I have since raised this issue with Icon. I doubt this error will be corrected.

The film utilises many of the original recordings by Edith Piaf, as Dahan thought it was impossible to replicate Piaf’s distinct voice. The song’s which appear in the film are Heaven Have Mercy, Milord, Rien de rien, La foule, Cri du cœur, La vie en rose (English version), Mon Dieu, Hymne à l'amour, Mon manège à moi and Non, je ne regrette rien.

However there are a few passages in which Cotillard’s voice is used and Jil Aigrot sings the following Piaf songs in the performance scenes - Mon Homme, Les Mômes de la Cloche, Mon Légionnaire, Les Hiboux, L'Accordéoniste and Padam Padam.

Christopher Gunning composed the original music score.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Disc One (Dual Layer)

Main Menu Audio and Animation

Subtle animation of a stage featuring scenes from the film, introduce the main menu which is well conceived. The menu is accompanied by a section of Hymne à l'amour. There are 18 scene selections and an audio set-up option.

Disc Two (Single Layer)

Main Menu Audio and Animation

Features the same menu as Disc One. This menu allows the user to access optional English Hard of Hearing subtitles for the special features and a Play All option if desired.

The following extras appeared on the French R2 TF1 Vidéo DVD release of La Môme. All the extras have player generated English subtitles which appear automatically when the feature is selected. These subtitles which are presented in a clear white font can be turned off if desired.

La Môme – Making Of - (25:54) (4x3)

This behind the scenes featurette explores Dahan’s script as well as the production of the film. The casting is also explored in depth featuring interviews with most of the cast elaborating on their character's connections to Piaf. An interview with Cotillard is also featured and we see the make-up transformations as well as Cotillard lip-synching to playback. Also the memorable five minute shot of when Piaf learns of Cerdan’s fate is also explored. This featurette is an excellent accompaniment to the film. This is also the same featurette which screened on SBS while the film was in theatrical release locally last year.

Deleted Scenes – (10:09) (4x3)

The deleted scenes are preceded by a title card explaining why the scenes were edited from the final film. The scenes range from a series of shots which extend the prologue of the film, to scenes which explore Piaf’s second marriage to Théo Sarapo. Other deleted scenes feature Titine, Mômone and Piaf’s mother.

La Môme in New-York - (12:43) (4x3)

This interesting featurette looks at the international distribution of the film. Featuring Dahan and Cotillard we see how the film was received in the United States. The featurette notes both Dahan and Cotillard will now have international careers. Cotillard has already worked with Luc Besson (Taxi 1-3), Tim Burton (Big Fish), Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Un long dimanche de fiançailles) and Ridley Scott (A Good Year) and most recently signed on to work with Michael Mann in his forthcoming feature Public Enemies (2009), alongside Johnny Depp and Christian Bale.

Edith Piaf - That Object of Desire – (26:49) (4x3)

This is a documentary about the life and art of Edith Piaf from a historical point of view and it features archival footage and photographs as well as scenes from La Môme. Piaf’s unique singing style and stage presence is discussed as is the music biography film. Film Critic Elise Domenach of Postif is interviewed as is Catherine Dutheil-Pessin, author of La Chanson Réaliste: Sociologie d'un Genre (The Realistic Song: History of a Genre) and singer Maya Barsoni.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The Dual-Disc R4 (Icon) release is the best release for English speaking audiences. However please note a number of readers have noticed an error on the DTS soundtrack. After contacting Icon in regards to this error, I doubt it will be corrected in the near future. In R4 La Môme was also released as a Limited Edition set featuring the CD soundtrack and slipcase packaging.

The R1 (HBO) release of La Môme features only one featurette titled Stepping into Character (7:22) and Optional English, French and Spanish subtitle options. There is no DTS soundtrack on this release. This release is titled as an Extended Edition with a (NTSC) runtime of 140:15. I am assuming when La Môme was screened theatrically in the United States, it may have been cut.

The Dual-Disc R2 (TF1 Vidéo) release of La Môme is the best release for French speaking audiences. In addition to the same features available on the R4 (Icon) release there is also an audio commentary with Olivier Dahan, theatrical trailer, weblink and Easter egg. Although the feature film features optional English subtitles, the extras do not.

Summary

The critically acclaimed film La Môme is perhaps one of the best films of 2007 and a tribute to a woman whose art and life created a legend. This beautifully crafted film is a triumph for Dahan and Cotillard. The local DVD release is (almost) perfect for English speaking audiences - the retail version of this title contains a serious error on the DTS soundtrack.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Vanessa Appassamy (Biography)
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDOPPO DV-980H, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE 700. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha DSP-A595a - 5.1 DTS
Speakers(Front) DB Dynamics Polaris AC688F loudspeakers,(Centre) DB Dynamics Polaris Mk3 Model CC030,(Rear) Polaris Mk3 Model SSD425,(Subwoofer) Jensen JPS12

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
audio mastering issues - REPLY POSTED
DTS soundtrack - Janos Varga REPLY POSTED
DTS is Full-Bitrate 1536Kbs + Recall - REPLY POSTED