Edith Piaf's agonizing story is told in unchained song.

“Marion Cotillard is a hurler,” says David Edelstein, of the actress tasked with embodying the spirit of the legendary French singer Edith Piaf. “She knows you can’t play Piaf halfway.” Good thing, too, because the level of anguish Cotillard suffers through during this film would be absurd if it wasn’t, you know, true. Framed against her brutal upbringing — “in a brothel, a circus with mean clowns, and on the streets, a performing monkey for a dissolute father and then a brutal pimp” — Piaf’s classic overblown performances are all the more triumphant.

La Vie En Rose

HBO Home Video

Out Nov. 13