Edith and Marcel (1983)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Drama, Melodrama, Biopic [feature]  |   Run Time - 168 min.  |   Countries - France  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Edith et Marcel is likely to divide viewers, for it has both strong points and weak points which adherents or detractors can seize upon to prove their points. To start with the latter, even its shortened American print is simply too long. Director Claude Lelouch has not paced the film well, with several sequences simply going on too long. The subplot involving the French POW and his epistolary love interest feels forced. Marcel Cerdan, Jr. may look the part of his own father, but he is not an accomplished enough actor to pull the part off. And using a modern Piaf imitator rather than the real thing on some of the songs is disconcerting and annoying. But on the plus side, Lelouch has created a film that in many ways mirrors the heart of many of Piaf's songs. He has also found an interesting way to tell a story rather than the typical "biopic" manner. His swirling camera is a joy and creates a sense of movement and life that is hard to resist, and the visual aspect of the film is quite pleasing. And whatever Cerdan's limitations, they are more than made up for by the vibrant, beautiful work of Evelyne Bouix. For this corner, the pros outweigh the cons enough to make Edith worth watching -- even when the going gets a bit tough.