Thursday, June 07, 2007

The heat of the limelight

Two interviews in this week's Time Out New York, and coincidentally both are related to the way some performers come alive on stage.

First off is Marion Cotillard, who is stupendous as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose (I much prefer the French title, La Môme). I usually have no patience for biopics—and have to admit that Piaf had never clicked for me—but I was completely moved by this one. Olivier Dahan cleverly plays around with chronology, introducing the dying Piaf very early on for instance. But his strength really lays with his mise en scène, which is most in evidence in the live scenes, like Piaf's big concert debut (shown sans sound) and the sequence in which she transcends her howling pain at Marcel Cerdan's death by going on stage, a transference process beautifully suggested by a long tracking shot.

Second is my current pop fave Darren Hayes, whom I'd already gushed about in these virtual pages. Hayes also illustrates the transformative power of a live show on audience and singer—I found it difficult to reconcile the emo-for-the-masses guy who once sang with Savage Garden with the sexy dervish doing Prince justice at Joe's Pub a few months ago.

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