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David Hugh Jones
In 1943, a young painter, Françoise Gilot (1921- ) meets Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), already the most celebrated artist in the world. For the next ten years, she is his mistress, bears him two children, is his muse, and paints within his element. She also learns slowly about the other women who have been or still are in his life: Dora Maar, Marie- Thérèse (whose daughter is Picasso's), and Olga Koklowa, each of whom seems deeply scarred by their life with Picasso. Gilot's response is to bring each into her relationship with Picasso. How does one survive Picasso? She keeps painting, and she keeps her good humor and her independence. When the time comes, she has the strength to leave. Written by
I recognize James Ivory's talent, but except for this movie, never watch any of his movies for the second time, and this because his taste for stretched, out-of-date, heavy, static movies(see "Howard's End"). His predilection for adaptations for the big screen of a novel usually set in a time period when social standing was more of an issue than today, combined with his obvious taste for older actors, and not at last, his age, which unavoidably sets the pace of the movies he directs, makes him a favorite for an older audience.
This is not the case here, where Ivory uses all his resources to the full extent, without sacrificing on freshness. The point of view is quite interesting placed as Françoise Gilot, a subjective, yet well informed observer, this imprinting a fresh and personal point of view to the account.
Françoise has the right, and judges Picasso(although she knew what she was getting into), who clearly was a difficult man, but also, like all powerful personalities, was a much misunderstood man. In a sense it's an account of a meeting between an artistic genius with a common person, who unavoidably perceives him as an oddity; but how can one expect a man like Picasso to behave like a common man, when he was not one?
Anthony Hopkins undergoes a complete transformation, and becomes the man Picasso, this only coming as further proof that a great artist can only be understood by another great artist, and the rest of us are just lucky spectators.
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