Born into a bordello and abandoned as a youth, French singing icon Edith Piaf (Cotillard) learned from an early age that the world was full of sorrow. Tracing her incredibly fateful life and career from destitution on the streets of Paris to her eventual fame as the eminent chanteuse of her generation, this biopic depicts how Piaf — troubled by drugs, violence, and cruel twists of fate — channeled the anguish of her experience into sublime song craft.
You couldn’t ask for a better life story than Piaf’s, and French director Dahan spares nothing in his depiction of the legendary singer, who was discovered crooning for pennies on a corner by cabaret owner Louis Leplee (Depardieu), later loved champion boxer Marcel Cerdan (Martins), and ultimately found a berth in 1950s Hollywood. But despite these successes, she endured enough tragedy to make Sophocles weep, and it’s the supernaturally beautiful Cotillard who brings Piaf to radiant, charismatic life in this unusually enthralling biopic, for which she won a much-deserved Oscar. This “Rose” has its thorns, but the pain is pure bliss.