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LA VIE EN ROSE – Christopher Gunning

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The legendary singer Edith Piaf, who died in 1963, remains a national icon of French musical culture to this day, whose razor-blade voice was unmistakable, and whose massive stage presence belied her diminutive stature. Director Olivier Dahan’s biography of Piaf, La Môme (released internationally as “La Vie en Rose”, after one of her most famous songs), stars Marion Cotillard in an extraordinary performance as the Little Sparrow, and features supporting turns from such respected Gallic actors as Sylvie Testud, Pascal Greggory, Emmanuelle Seigner and Gérard Depardieu.

For the music, Dahan surprisingly turned to English composer Christopher Gunning, who hasn’t written music for this high profile a film since Firelight a decade ago. As one might expect, Gunning’s music is distinctly French in tone, replete with tinkling pianos, cooing choirs and almost clichéd accordions, but has a surprisingly light, almost-fairytale like waltz quality in the opening “L’Eveil”. The main theme, “Mon Legionnaire”, depicts the relationships between Piaf and the various men in her life, and is a quite solemn and stately piano solo, seemingly echoing the private tragedy that dogged Piaf’s public life; it appears later in the score during “La Mort de Leplée” and “Mon Légionnaire/Arrestation”.

With the exception of the sweeping, tragedy-laden finale “Dernière Nuit” it’s generally a fairly lightweight score, pleasant in tone, but seeming content to play the supporting role to Piaf and her voice. Still, it’s gratifying to see Chris Gunning getting a modicum of international exposure.

The songs of Piaf, of course, play a massively important part of the soundtrack album, and all in all eleven of her most famous performances are captured on the CD, including the legendary trio “Rien de Rien”, “La Vie en Rose” and her signature piece, “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien”, which I’m sure no-one with an ounce of French blood can hear without getting chills. The middle section of the CD is given over to selections from Gunning’s score, while the final third is dedicated to modern re-interpretations of Piaf classics, including several by Parigote singer Jil Aigrot.

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • Heaven Have A Mercy (performed by Edith Piaf) (3:40)
  • Milord (performed by Edith Piaf) (4:29)
  • Rien de Rien (performed by Edith Piaf) (2:20)
  • La Foule (performed by Edith Piaf) (2:55)
  • Cri du Coeur (performed by Edith Piaf) (2:37)
  • La Vie en Rose (performed by Edith Piaf) (3:24)
  • Padam Padam (performed by Edith Piaf) (3:16)
  • Mon Dieu (performed by Edith Piaf) (3:26)
  • L’Hymne à l’Amour (performed by Edith Piaf) (3:24)
  • Mon Manège à Moi (performed by Edith Piaf) (3:00)
  • Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien (performed by Edith Piaf) (5:21)
  • L’Eveil (1:06)
  • Mon Légionnaire – Piano Solo (1:23)
  • Lisieux (2:33)
  • La Mort de Leplée (1:09)
  • Apparition (1:31)
  • L’ABC (2:28)
  • Mon Légionnaire/Arrestation (1:18)
  • L’Idylle (2:30)
  • Dernière Nuit (7:30)
  • Mon Homme (performed by Jil Aigrot) (1:28)
  • Les Mômes de la Cloche (performed by Jil Aigrot) (3:56)
  • Les Hiboux (performed by Jil Aigrot) (1:05)
  • Fascination (performed by Maya Barsoni) (1:56)
  • Il m’a Vue Nue (performed by Mistinguett) (3:15)
  • La Poupée (1:43)
  • La Vie en Rose – Accordeon (2:11)

Running Time: 74 minutes 54 seconds

EMI Music France 0946-3861082-3 (2007)

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