Young and fearless, Piaf takes to the streets to sing for food and wine. Right away, she's discovered--by Gerard Depardieu, no less. As bio pics often do, the film follows the long arc of a life: from birth to death, the triumphant rise to fame, and the equally resounding fall. And Piaf falls hard. Her transformation into a drug addicted wreck is shocking.
Piaf's voice is one of a kind; on big speakers, the legendary songs sound marvelous. Marion Cotillard gives a powerhouse performance that could not be more charming or more revolting -- all in one movie. In the end, however, the life and the music and the performance cannot transcend the genre. I left the theater with a resounding headache.