La Vie En Rose

In keeping with the French theme of the opening night movie, there was an Edith Piaf sound-a-like performing “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” at last night’s opening night party of the Sydney Film Festival. Accompanied by Monsieur Camembert, Nell Schofield sang, “La Vie En Rose”, making the party one of highlights.

Although a couple of people I spoke to didn’t like the opening night film, “La Vie En Rose” I thought it was tremendous. “I’m left with more questions than answers”, a friend told us. “Was she a lesbian, what drugs was she taking, who was the man she had the child with, what happened with the plane crash, and why did she die her hair ORANGE at the end of her life?” Yes, I think that covers everything.

For me, the lack of answers didn’t matter. I’ve been aware of Piaf for a lot of my life, having first seen her perform “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” on television as a child. Although I’ve been aware of her music, I wasn’t aware of the more troubled parts of her life, including being raised in a brothel, her drug abuse, and the many tragedies which occurred, including the death of a child, and the death of a lover.

At times, however, she seems to live a fairytale life (the film looks like a 1940s musical). At other times the film demonstrates (in a Les-Mis kind of way) the grim realism of her life on the streets of Paris. The film is also interesting in its non-linear treatment of her life story, as we’re taken from childhood to death and back again many times.

But isn’t that what life is like? Isn’t life really a non-linear narrative where you learn and forget life’s lessons over and over again? At times, such as when she is being interviewed on the beach you sense real satisfaction and personal happiness, at other times such as when she is close to death, Piaf tells a friend, “I don’t want to go”, demonstrating a fear of the unknown, despite her strong Catholic faith.

For me one of the most profound moments of self-realisation was when she described her life simply in these these terms… “I over did it”. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to have been in her close cadre of friends. The highs, the lows, the volatility. She must have been a nightmare, despite her obvious talents.

Also last night, there was a terrific little short film called, “Nana” by film-maker Warwick Thornton, about the perceptions of a young Aboriginal girl living in Central Australia of her grandmother. But while the grandmother is the sweet old lady you might expect of any nana, she has a wicked streak too. The little girl follows her gran as she goes hunting for bush-tucker, bringing home quite a hall. There’s a terrific line about how her grandmother is a well-known painter, but keeps the painting the same story over and over “because white people don’t know any different”. And there’s an amazing scene where nana bashes a group of young men seeking to bring alcohol into a community. It was a lovely film and highly recommended.

Actually, both films are recommended. Great stuff!!

And the party? Well, the party was good, with the Sydney Town Hall beautifully decorated. The wine, especially the red, which I think was from Bimbadgen was great, though the food was a little disappointing.

We had a great time, though, wandering around the circle, chatting to a few people here and there. We didn’t stay too late, though, since it was cold, wet and blustery, meaning I got soaked on the way home.