The passionate Merchant Ivory drama tells the story of Françoise Gilot (Natascha McElhone), the only lover of Pablo Picasso (Sir Anthony Hopkins) who was strong enough to withstand his ferocious cruelty, and move on with her life.
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Set in Paris in 1919, biopic centers on the life of late Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani, focusing on his last days as well as his rivalry with Pablo Picasso. Modigliani, a Jew, has fallen in love with Jeanne, a young and beautiful Catholic girl. The couple has an illegitimate child, and Jeanne's bigoted parents send the baby to a faraway convent to be raised by nuns. Modigliani is distraught and needs money to rescue and raise his child. The answer arrives in the shape of Paris' annual art competition. Prize money and a guaranteed career await the winner. Neither Modigliani, nor his dearest friend and rival Picasso have ever entered the competition, believing that it is beneath true artists like themselves. But push comes to shove with the welfare of his child on the line, and Modigliani signs up for the competition in a drunken and drug-induced tirade. Picasso follows suit and all of Paris is aflutter with excitement at who will win. With the balance of his relationship with Jeanne...Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Colorful and engaging, albeit, self-important lengthy Bio-Pic. Acting values range from screaming to sublime. Artist portrayals are always difficult to convey on the screen, and in this case, a painter, comes across as self-serving, ultimately unsympathetic but full of great art. His oeuvre speaks volumes but his lifestyle, littered with latch key kid lacking, results in some sad and destructive behavioral patterns that he never could outgrow. Backstory handled effectively and the anti-semitic storyline brutally honest but ham-fisted by the script. The debauched artists are overwhelmed by pistols, pity and the tortured artist syndrome. The scenes between the Big M and Pablo Picasso are the most interesting because of the tension created by the actors in each of the scenes; but Diego Rivera is reduced to bows and grunts. Excessive use of blood overstates some of the violence and one of the characters spends all his time yelling, about anything and everything. The "age" of the baby bothered my gal-pal ("M's" lover is seven months pregnant and carrying a three month old in her arms...say what?!) and the bad guys are straw-men with blackjacks to wield. Although there are scenes of "M" studying the bone structure of his subjects and checking out the rain on his window pane his artistic inspiration may be too subtle for the cinema to effectively embrace, without including his bouts with booze and hash. Keep this guy away from mommy's purse, he's a man on binge mission. Of course how do you portray inspiration? That's a puzzle. Too bad, too, because ultimately "M" left me mostly unmoved and wanting to take a trip to The Prado; rather than watch a vain and valiant Andy Garcia doing his Leaving Las Vegas cocktail chug-a-lug tumble down the auteur hole of dipsomania and consumption. Not a pretty slide. Not since Steven Boyd sucked his last gasp in Ben Hur has a character expelled air with such profound pathos. The women are pretty pawns in the directors hand's and the Salon Artist Paint-off "Contender" sequence rivals March Madness in frustration, respect and triumph. The euro trash tune-age is redolent of Cirque Du...and the salon scenes are gaudy but filled to the brim with odd balls and period patches.
Has the film a USA distributor? And for who is the pic targeted? The Hitch and Robots crowds will have a hard time pronouncing the title let along paying ten bucks to walk through the doors of the local multiplex to catch this one. Wait till DVD, rent it; and then go to an art gallery.
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