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André S. Labarthe
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>
Shortly before his death, legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa named La belle noiseuse as one of his 2 favorite movies made in the 1990s (the other being Fireworks by Takeshi Kitano), calling it the best filmed display of a struggle of an artist doing his craft and a cinematic piece he would have liked to direct himself. See more »
In Frenhofer's studio, the position of Marianne's legs changes between the long shot (right leg bent and forward) and close shot (left leg bent and forward) when Frenhofer is telling them that they will be unhappy as well. See more »
Unless you're a New Wavelet devotee or your intellectual capacities are wide, Jacques Rivette is a filmmaker who isn't very close to many average viewers. In many of his films he loses himself amid his intellectual ideas and doesn't mind developing them while neglecting notions of storytelling, progression in narration and time. Consequently, the average length of his works is of about two hours and a half. Many filmmakers left very long films too. But they keep in mind that their films are destined to be understood by the general public and so obey to rules of clarification in their accessible stories.
"La Belle Noiseuse" is one of his most palatable pieces of work in spite of its challenging length. It clocks in at 4 hours but don't panic, time won't seem long to you for Rivette keeps a decent linearity from the first reunion with the main characters of the film to the surprising final denouement to the agreement of Marianne (Emmanuelle Béart) to serve as a model for the painter Frenhofer (Michel Piccoli). Along their adventure, some details will witness the progression of the story: Marianne sleeps in Frenhofer's mansion while the latter falls asleep in his studio. An aesthetic refinement freely sourced from Honoré De Balzac's novel "the Unknown Masterpiece" and perhaps the son of "le Mystère Picasso" (1956) by Henri-Georges Clouzot, Rivette's piece of work is a dive in the twists and turns of artistic creation and all that it can comprise with its times of hopes, doubts, fears. Frenhofer naturally starts with a series of sketches and continues with numerous paintings attempts and countless, testing poses for Marianne. The two characters are engaged in a creative process that is highly likely to leave them exhausted to say the least. The filmmaker deftly taps the scenery of the mansion and notably the studio where he locks for the major part of the film, Marianne and Frenhofer for better and for worse. A painstaking care is given to sound with the squeaking of charcoal and brush. To better capture the sense of spontaneous creation, Rivette fell back on methods worthy of the New Wavelet and notably Godard's: he shot his film without a script near him and perhaps that's why many moments seem extemporaneous. But unlike Godard's smug works, Rivette's one remains quite understandable as a whole.
A dark legend surrounds this film about its success, one of the few Rivette enjoyed all along his career. Was it due to Emmanuelle Béart's nudity? "La Religieuse" (1966) was banned because it was deemed as shocking for a major part of the population according to the censors. This banning contributed to the popularity of the film. So, it would seem that Rivette has to put elements likely to be scabrous to make himself accepted by general public.
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