Before I heard of this film, I must admit I knew very little about Edith Piaf, one of the most beloved French singers in history. I had heard her work, which is featured many films, but I knew nothing of her dramatic life. Olivier Dahan's biopic does what all great biopics should do — get inside who the person was and share with us what they did that made them special. As I finished watching this film, I was transformed from a Piaf novice into a Piaf fan.
Edith Piaf, played as an adult by Marion Cotillard (LOVE ME IF YOU DARE), in her 47 years on Earth lived the lives of 10 people. Raised in poverty with her fledging singer mother, she was taken by her father, on leave from WWI, to live with her grandmother, a madam at a brothel. There she fell under the loving care of a prostitute named Titine (Emmanuelle Seigner, FRANTIC). When Edith falls ill and almost goes blind, Titine takes her to the shrine of Saint Therese to pray. When the war is over, Edith's father takes her from the only stable home she has known to travel with him in the circus. Later, her father strikes out on his own, but finds that his solo contortionist act is less of a draw then the powerful vocal skills of his young daughter.