The Long Shadow of a French Chanteuse

The petite, hunched figure in the somber black dress appears everywhere in Paris on billboards and cinema marquees. Her thin, outstretched arms seem to beckon onlookers closer. She bears no name nor reveals even a glimpse of her face. But no clues are needed: this iconic silhouette can belong only to Edith Piaf.

With Piaf as its subject, Olivier Dahan's new film La Môme (The Kid), titled La Vie en Rose in some countries, was virtually assured success. In the first week following its Feb. 14 release, the film attracted over 1.5 million viewers — 400,000 more than...

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