If there are lots of reviews on here saying Marion Cotillard is amazing as Edith Piaf, there's a reason - she is. Her performance here is totally amazing and utterly mesmerizing. So many films these days (especially Hollywood ones) are over-hyped, and filled with good looking puppets - 2-dimensional 'actors' chosen for their looks rather than acting skills. Marion Cotillard is a glimpse back into a more golden film age where people could actually act - really act - and even on these terms she knocks the socks off many golden greats. She really does inhabit the part of Piaf.
There's a totally bizarre review earlier on here saying she was miscast and didn't act...it has to be one of the most ill-judged things I've ever read on here. Even one of Edith Piaf's closest friends, Ginou Richer, who is still alive and sat in on the recording of the final scene at 'Olympia', paid tribute to Cotillard (in an interview in the Guardian newspaper), saying:
"Marion has it exactly, the way she walks, talks, her way of laughing. The hardest part for her was lip-synching the songs, but really, you'd say it was Edith singing." That's some tribute coming from someone who lived as a companion with Edith for 15 years.
The same earlier reviewer got it wrong on the songs too - most of the Piaf songs in the film are real Piaf vocal performances, re-mastered for the film.
The film itself isn't the greatest scenario/synopsis of Piaf's life - it misses a lot of the complexities of Piaf's life, and several of her key relationships - such as with Yves Montand - are overlooked. The director apparently did this deliberately, because he wanted to concentrate on Piaf's life as a woman vis-à-vis her art. To a certain extent he does succeed, even if he does out-Hollywood Hollywood in the process. I also agree with one previous reviewer who says that the immense adoration felt for Piaf in France is not shown or contextualised. Anyone unfamiliar with Piaf's life story might be forgiven for thinking she was just a famous singer. She wasn't - she was, and still is, an absolute icon in France. The crowds for her burial in Père Lachaise brought Paris to a standstill. But these omissions don't necessarily detract from the film's power, which lies totally with the quality of the acting and the visual cinematography.
I have to say that the scene where Edith looses her true love, Marcel Cerdan, will stay with me for ever.
PS 2 DVDs in box - the second one containing 7 deleted scenes, a look at how Marion Cotillard transformed herself into Edith Piaf, and a feature on Edith Piaf.