Édith Piaf. I’ve never even heard of her until last night which is sad because she was such a sensation – a French singer and cultural icon who became universally regarded as France’s greatest popular singer. I was watching a French film called La Vie en Rose last night (literally meaning Life in Pink) which is a biographical drama based on Piaf’s life. The actress who plays her, Marion Cotillard, captured Édith so perfectly and even won the Academy Award for Best Actress for this film – the first time an Oscar had been given for a French-language role. Basically, I was blown away by her performance; I’ve seen Marion Cotillard in other films before like Public Enemy and Big Fish, but those roles were nothing compared to La Vie en Rose, probably because she was willing to let herself go and offer more than just a pretty face. Cotillard is quite beautiful in real life as well as on screen, but her portrayal of Piaf was intentionally skittish and imbalanced…almost grotesque in some scenes. If you didn’t know, Cotillard also played Mal, Cobb’s deceased wife, in Inception.
So here’s the freaky thing. As soon as I started watching La Vie en Rose, Piaf’s voice sounded awfully familiar and something started to itch in the back of my mind. I was trying to put two and two together and it finally clicked at the end of the movie where she sings her debut of “Non, je ne regrette rien” (No, I regret nothing). I thought “Whoa! I’ve heard this song before.” In Inception, “Non, je ne regrette rien” is the song frequently used to signal to the characters that they are about to be ejected from the Dream. Marion Cotillard who plays Piaf in La Vie en Rose coincidentally also ends up being in the film that uses “Non, je ne regrette rien” as its key recording. This happenstance probably doesn’t interest anyone but me, but I thought it was worth mentioning :)
Also it’s also nice to know that some beautiful actresses aren’t afraid to insert themselves into ugly yet honest roles which win them respect in the long run. Some examples: Charlize Theron in Monster, Cameron Diaz in Being John Malkovich, Hilary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry, Felicity Huffman in Transamerica, and of course Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose. More power to them.