Friday, February 22, 2008

Rien de Rien

In honor of the upcoming Oscars on Sunday, I'll finally write about a film I've been meaning to address ever since I saw it last summer: La Vie En Rose, the story of the life of Edith Piaf. Much has been written elsewhere about the performance of Marion Cotillard, and I agree that her transformation into Piaf from her teenage years through the time of her death was absolutely amazing. [NB: I actually think Julie Christie will win the Academy Award Sunday, and if she does, I won't be disappointed.]

I also found many parts of the film itself emotionally moving, though it had its fair share of melodrama and the typical "biopic" narrative. As Huntington wrote to me at one point, many film biographies of popular musicians follow the same arc: the rise and the fall and the rise again. This is also true in this case, but I found some aspects of Piaf's life -- and Cotillard's interpretation -- particularly heartbreaking.

One example is the filming and overall mood of the scene in which Piaf awakens from sleep thinking that her lover has arrived from Paris, only to learn that he's been in a plane crash. Another is the scene at the end in which Piaf is on her deathbed and seems to fade in and out of consciousness, while the filmmaker shows us flashbacks of some earlier events of which we were unaware.

I didn't ever really know much about Piaf before seeing the film, and I've only listened to her music a bit. However, I found myself moved to tears during one climactic concert scene in which Cotillard/Piaf interprets Je Ne Regrette Rien. Below is a clip of Piaf herself singing one of her signature pieces:

I dedicate this post in a way to the sweet and understanding Lynette, who has at least once or twice written in such a heartfelt way on the subject of regrets and letting them go. I try to be mindful of the futility of regrets as often as possible, especially because I have so often felt so dogged by so many of them...

So, here's to having no regrets.

No, nothing at all
No, I regret nothing
Neither the good nor the bad
It's all the same to me
It's paid for, wiped away, forgotten,
It's all in the past
With my memories I've set fire
To my troubles, my pleasures
I don't need them anymore

* * *
Non, rien de rien
Non! Je ne regrette rien
Ni le bien, qu’on m’a fait,
Ni le mal, Tout ça m’est bien égal!
Non, rien de rien...
C’est payé, balayé, oublié,
Je me fous du passé!
Avec me souvenirs
J’ai allumé le feu,
Mes chagrins, mes plaisirs,
Je n’ai plus besoin d’eux!
Balayé les amours,
Avec leurs trémolos,
Balayés pour toujours
Je repars à zéro...


BigAssBelle said...

oh yes, here's to having no regrets. i so wish that were possible.

sometimes i wonder if better folks than i have managed to live their lives without regret? is it the fact of my checkered past that fills it so with things i wish i could change?

working the AA steps helped so much in this regard. everything that could be fixed, i've fixed and that is tremendous relief, because much required attention.

but it's the few things for which there are no fixes that will sometimes rise up at 3 a.m., evil wraiths from the dark past, and then i am filled with that wretched feeling, that aching of the heart that is such an agony.

i haven't seen this movie but i will now. you're a sweetheart, joseph.

T$ said...

it's impossible to listen to that song without feeling like you can take on the world.

I too was expecting Julie Christie to much as I love her...I'm thrilled that Cotillard won. To say her performance is astounding is an understatement.

Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

I'm really torn over whether or not to have "Je Ne Regrette Rein" or Nina Simone's take on "My Way" played at my funeral. Perhaps I can have both. I first became obsessed with Piaf around age eight. Not typical for a little Jewish/French Canadian boy on the prairie.

I was sort of mixed on the film, though I loved that scene of her walking down the street drinking from a wine bottle. It reminded me of Hollywoodlawn in "Women in Revolt".