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The former famous painter Frenhofer lives quietly with his wife in his countryside residence in the French Provence. When the young artist Nicolas visits him with his girlfriend Marianne, Frenhofer decides to start working again on a painting called 'La Belle Noiseuse', which he gave up a long time ago. And he wants Marianne as a model. The ensuing creative process will change the characters' lives. It will become a struggle for truth and meaning, and the question about the limits of art will arise. Written by
Jens Bertheau <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Frenhofer mentions a sculptor, Rubek, and his model, Irene, who both died in Norway. This is a reference to a play by Henrik Ibsen, 'When We Dead Awake'. See more »
When Porbus, Nicolas and Marianne approach Frenhofer's house for the first time, as they cross the street their shadows are towards the camera, but when they walk up the stairs, their shadows are now in front of them - a turnaround of about 135 degrees. See more »
If you have the patience, La Belle Noiseuse is very rewarding.
In his four hour drama La Belle Noiseuse, French filmmaker Jacques Rivette has painted a haunting portrayal of an artist, a model, and the effects that a work can have on those involved. It is a brave piece of film-making, featuring physical and emotional openness. The film moves very slowly, but is very much worth watching. La Belle Noiseuse allows us to watch the creation of a piece of art and how it can change a person. This is a true accomplishment. The actors are all very much on key and, with no real script, provide real and believable dialogue. Rivette paints these characters in a very human way: it's easy to imagine these people existing. There are no movie tricks. It's a truly naked film in that it offers such an intimate look into the hearts of the main characters. Anytime a film can do this, you know it's something special.
La Belle Noiseuse revolves around two couples. Marianne and Nicolas are a young couple. Nicolas is an artist and has been invited to take a look at the studio of Frenhofer, a once revered and respected painter who has given up his art. While discussing a painting that Frenhofer never finished the "La Belle Noiseuse" Nicolas suggests that Frenhofer use Marianne as his model. Frenhofer agrees. However, Marianne is not very happy about this. She arrives at the studio very disheartened. As Frenhofer draws and paints her, the two of them get to know each other. Marianne's resentment falls away and she becomes more open with Frenhofer, doing as he says, asking him questions, posing how he'd like. Frenhofer wants to dig deeper. As a painter, he feels the need to really capture the essence of his model. His wife, Liz, was his last model. As a result of this need to dig deeper, he was forced to either give up painting or give up his wife. The film spends much of its four hour running time in the studio with Marianne and Frenhofer. Otherwise, there are scenes with Frenhofer and Liz, as well as with Liz and Nicolas, and Marianne and Nicolas, who are growing apart by the day.
For those who can endure the extreme running time, La Belle Noiseuse is a fascinating film to watch. The characters, as I said before, are very real. Much of the film features Marianne (played by the lovely Emmanuelle Beart) posing nude. It's a bold performance for the actress, who must bear her soul as well as her body in order for the performance to be effective. She is absolutely wonderful, as is Michel Piccoli as the bitter painter. The only problem I have with the film is not that it's so long, but that much of it focuses on the drawing. There are five and ten minute scenes where the audience watches Frenhofer sketch and paint. It's fascinating at first, but eventually becomes a bit tedious. This should not steer anyone away, though. Anyone who can appreciate slow moving character studies should be fine.
To sum up, I would recommend La Belle Noiseuse. However, a person should probably know what they are getting into prior to watching. The film is not for everyone. It takes patience to enjoy, but for those who can, it is very rewarding. Jacques Rivette is a truly revolutionary director. The other film I've seen from him, Celine and Julie Go Boating, is just as wonderful as La Belle Noiseuse, but is in a completely different universe. He is a very versatile, unique, and underrated director. La Belle Noiseuse shows this. It's a beautiful film.
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