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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 <email@example.com>
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 »
Until last night, I have shied away from this film due to its daunting 4-hour length. But watching Jacques Rivette's "La Belle Noiseuse" was not nearly as difficult as I feared it might be. In fact, it actually feels liberating to watch a film that doesn't limit itself to a predetermined time constraint. With most films that rely heavily on an advancing plot, any possible lulls may wear on the viewer. "La Belle Noiseuse" boldly eschews the artifice of plot and standard pacing, and deeply focuses on its story of an artist, Frenhofer (played by Michel Piccoli), finding inspiration in a young model (played by Emmanuelle Beart) to paint again after a 10-year hiatus.
The drawing scenes alone really held my interest. Presented with little dialogue, they really made me feel as if I were witnessing art unfold, which is nothing less than exhilarating. It was also fascinating to see this in combination with the subtle development and changes that take place within Beart's character, Marianne, as she transforms from a fidgety, resentful subject to an impassioned muse who sheds away all corporeal pretense and lends her bare soul to the canvas. Giving support to the complex and nuanced performances of the two leads, the waiflike Jane Birkin is also a standout in the role of Liz, the artist's wife, especially in the later scenes in which she expresses conflict with her husband's art.
I am glad that I have finally seen this movie, and I definitely encourage anyone with a curiosity about this movie to see it too. All it requires is four hours of your time and an open mind. "La Belle Noiseuse" is an extremely long film, but never boring. Watching this film is like slowly immersing your body into a hot bath. Your enjoyment of it all depends on how willing you are to adapt yourself to its pacing. But like a hot bath, it takes a little adjustment.
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