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David Hugh Jones
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When a disgraced former college dean has a romance with a mysterious younger woman haunted by her dark, twisted past, he is forced to confront a shocking fact about his own life that he has kept secret for 50 years.
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
It's a pity that many of the user comments on this movie are simply a vehicle for people's dislike of Picasso, and that they treat the film as though it were a documentary. Picasso may have been as sex-mad, egocentric, paranoid and capricious as any Hollywood star (think Chaplin); but first and foremost he was a prodigious artist, who transformed our view of visual art, and dealt with some of the great themes of western culture. And presumably it was those latter qualities which drew women to him, in the same way that women have been drawn to successful, powerful men of dubious character since the dawn of time.
The movie and Hopkins' performance are certainly successful in displaying Picasso's human weaknesses; but there is a failure to adequately convey Picasso's enormous creative power, a weakness compounded by the fact that the makers were not allowed to use much of his work in the film. I see the film as a well made, excellently acted, but partial (in both senses of the word) portrait of the artist. Its real focus is the women in his life, especially Francoise Gilot, and on the two-way exploitative nature of the relationship between a man of this kind and his mistresses/wives.
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