Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Edith Piaf------------------- Marion Cotillard as Piaf
I've recently watched two films from Netflix: La Vie en Rose and The Namesake. La Vie, direced by Olivier Dahan, is a biopic about Edith Piaf, documenting her tempestuous life--raised as a child in a house of prostitution, discovered as a singer in the bars of Paris, gripped at the peak of her powers by drug addiction, finally rediscovered after rehabilitation but doomed to die young in her mid-forties. Marion Cotillard's Piaf is full of life, humor, and nerve, though deeply anguished in her darker moments--no doubt a true recasting of Piaf's actual character. But in the end I remain more moved by Piaf's songs than the plot of the movie itself. It just seemed to slip too readily into cliche--the talented, charming, sometimes self-centered wastrel ultimately done in by her excesses.
The Namesake, directed by Mira Nair, on the other hand, I find moving and effective. It seems pretty true to what I recall of the novel. It's a gutsy film in the sense that it initially focuses on Asoke and Ashima Ganguli, their arranged marriage, their move from India to the U.S., and tensions in this cultural dislocation, but then moves ahead quickly to their years when their son and daughter are teens and then young adults. So the story line shifts from the parents to the son, Gogol, and his attempts to negotiate between his American tastes and his at first tenuous ties to his Indian culture. Kal Penn is endearing and convincing in this role. And his parents are effectively played by Irfan Khan and Tabu. Visually wonderful, accentuating the heat, clutter, and family chaos of Calcutta as opposed to the frigidity of winter in New York.
My original blog with Xanga.com is still available here. There's not much to it other than some poetry experimentation, which I did along with the poetry class I required to keep blogs.