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La belle noiseuse (1991)

Unrated  |   |  Drama  |  4 September 1991 (France)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 4,416 users  
Reviews: 43 user | 30 critic

The former famous painter Frenhofer revisits an abandoned project using the girlfriend of a young visiting artist. Questions about truth, life, and artistic limits are explored.



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Title: La belle noiseuse (1991)

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Cast overview:
Marianne Denicourt ...
David Bursztein ...
Gilles Arbona ...
Marie Belluc ...
Marie-Claude Roger ...
Leïla Remili ...
La servante
Daphne Goodfellow ...
Deux touristes
Susan Robertson ...
Deux touristes
Bernard Dufour ...
La main du peintre


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

painter | artist | provence | model | art | See All (38) »




Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:







Release Date:

4 September 1991 (France)  »

Also Known As:

A Bela Impertinente  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$408,571 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (dvd)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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 »


Version of Divertimento (1992) See more »


Music by Igor Stravinsky
Performed by 'Orchestre National de la RTF
Conducted by Pierre Monteux
(avec l'autorisation des disques Montaigne)
See more »

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User Reviews

not just arty twaddle
23 September 1999 | by (Tokyo, Japan) – See all my reviews

A young artist and his girlfriend run into an aging master who has not painted for many years. It emerges that he stopped in the middle of a painting of his wife which threatened to destroy his marriage. Why this should be so is not at first clear. Over time, however, as the young artist's girlfriend poses for the older artist so that he can finish the painting, it becomes apparent quite how emotionally demanding the artistic process is.

Many people seem to find this film boring or pretentious. It's a matter of taste I guess. I found the long sections of the artist sketching his model extremely compelling. Even if you can't imagine this, give the film a try. I have a friend who hates arty films, particularly if they're in a foreign language. His favourite film is the Rock, yet he started watching this (with the sole aim of seeing Emmanuelle Beart in the buff, which she is for most of the movie) and ended up sitting through the whole four hours. It has a genuinely hypnotic quality.

Aside from the debate about the art sections of the film, its content is superb. The characters are real, interesting and beautifully played. The Beart character in particular is a wonderful depiction of someone who is deeply scarred, but erects a powerful veneer of independence to protect herself. As the artist sketches her from every angle, he gradually gets under her defences, until her entire personality is exposed on canvas. I know this sounds really pretentious, but this film effectively argues that what marks out a masterpiece is that someone's soul - either the artist's or the model's - is put on canvas, and in the process, they and the people close to them are affected irrevocably. Ultimately, the only real flaw in this film is, I'm informed, that the sketches themselves aren't actually that good. If you're like me and have a limited sensitivity to such things, this shouldn't bother you. If not, try not to let it spoil a beautiful, rewarding and profoundly satisfying movie.

39 of 45 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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