Camille Claudel (1988) Poster

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Wonderful! A must see for those who appreciate quality films.
poemlady14 July 2002
I couldn't take my eyes away from the television, and it wasn't because it was in French with English subtitles. This is a superbly acted film depicting two artists' work, passion, fears and ultimately her downfall, falling victim to her own creative mind.

Now that this wonderful story will be a Broadway musical in 2003 under the finesse of Frank Wildhorn and the magical voice of lovely Linda Eder, one will certainly appreciate familiarizing themselves with the background of the subject of this movie, Camille Claudel.
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Extremely underrated. Adjani's performance is epic!
saucyjack196822 January 2008
This film is beyond beautiful and beyond heartbreaking. After 19 years, it still tears the heart right out of me. I first saw "Camille Claudel" while it was on it's Oscar campaign in 1990 for "Best Foreign Film" and "Best Actress - Isabelle Adjani". I hadn't really begun to appreciate foreign film yet so I had no idea what to expect. What I saw was an angel beyond description giving one of the greatest acting performances I had EVER seen, still to this day. This film is heart-wrenching in it's beauty and romantic tragedy. In fact it makes art of it. I went back to the theater to watch it six times, I even dragged friends along. Yes the film was brilliant, but what I went back to see was perhaps the most beautiful woman I've ever seen on the big screen. Isabelle Adjani's beauty in this film is breath-taking and her performance is one of the most intense and deeply moving in history. I have this film on VHS and DVD. I still love to watch it.
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one of the most brilliant acting in a movie
ULVAEUS13 July 1999
How the american academy award could have forgotten one of the best performance of an actress ? it's a total mystery! The talent of Isabelle ADJANI is not at all recognized as it deserves. She's absolutely poignant in this part, from the young Camille to the crackin'up mature sculptor falling in despair and madness. The scene where Rodin touch her art in the dark and leads him to a scene where their respective egos fight each other, discovering the deep scars let by their devastating passion is an highlight of acting. At his level, it can be compared to "sunset boulevard" or "a streetcar named Desire".
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Adjani was robbed of her Oscar!
Banquo1325 December 2002
Isabelle Adjani is stunning as the title character in this rich and passionate film. I am amazed anytime an actor or actresses changes physically in the part of a film (and without tons of make-up and special effects, either!)and Adjani does this remarkably well! We as an audience are just as stunned as Eugene Blot when he finds Camille drunk and spiraling into the depths of madness. Her appearance is nothing less than shocking.

The film as a whole is engaging with a whirlwind of emotions--rage, sadness, torment, bliss; by the time the nearly 3 hours are up, I am exhausted. Adjani and Depardieu are part of that emotional energy as they passionately go at it--sex, sculpture and anger; especially when it comes to the latter. It is almost worth it to stop reading the subtitles and listen to them rage and lash out at one another.

Adjani is powerful in so much of this film...I am amazed she didn't receive that best actress Oscar she was up for. Her torment and pain is riveting--especially in French. I am glad they did not decide to dub this film into English; hearing Adjani sob and ask "Pourquoi? Pourquoi?" would be empty with her mouthing the words "Why? why?" in English.

The film as a whole is a bit long, but overall is stunning. The sad epilogue is even sadder if you know that Claudel's remains were interred in a mass grave after her brother Paul failed to claim them from her original grave [the asylums only interred bodies in individual plots for a certain amount of time; space was at a premium.] So, the brilliant Camille Claudel's remains ended up in an unmarked grave mixed in with others who went unclaimed, as well.
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Darkness and Light
Tim O'Grady25 February 2000
This film is about the tragic failure of a genius. She fails not so much because of her tendency to make fatal mistakes but because of the shape those mistakes took in her mind. This, even as lesser personages prospered (e.g., Camille's brother Paul, the famous Catholic poet and diplomat) because they were not adverse to espousing convenient "beliefs" for the sake of earthly success. Many viewers will feel a strong affinity with Camille, not because they consider themselves geniuses but rather for the interior world she constructed that, without religion, gave the exterior world meaning. I say she was without religion, but in fact sculpture was her religion--at least until her final failure to gain the respect and patronage of capricious buyers. It was then that her religion (her meaningful myth) took the form of a conspiracy delusion. Powerful people, she thought (mostly, the sculptor Rodin, who had been her lover), were out to get her, thwarting her every move.

What we experience here is a thoughtful, scary exploration of the darkness that is a paradoxical part of all brilliance.
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Camille Claudel is an Excellent Film
w-koenigsmann20 July 2005
This is an excellent film and I highly recommend it. The imagery and soundtrack is lush, and the story focuses intensely on Camille's perfectionism and fortitude, all the while depicting her descent into madness, although some claim she wasn't mad, merely a woman ahead of her time, and thus ostracized.

From what I have read of various biographies of Camille Claudel, I understand that she was a woman ahead of her time; she scorned the bourgeois, just as many artists, writer, and musicians did -- in the same way that modern artists scorn the common, small-minded, and narrow society (read Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf for a good understanding of the artist's situation in society).

Following the pattern of Vincent van Gogh and Franz Schubert, Camille Claudel was not a great "promoter" of her works, and, to make things worse, the bourgeois society, just like today, failed to understand her art (again, like the plight of Vincent van Gogh and many others).

At her core, Camille Claudel was a true rebel, not because she wanted to be, but because she had to. Camille Claudel was a true artist, in the very deepest sense.
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Isabelle Adjani is impressive
hspm13 December 2004
This is one of the films I actually would give more than 10 points ! Judging from other comments, it seems that people either love this film very much, or they hate it. I was particularly impressed by Isabelle Adjani's performance as an artist and lover of Rodin who changed between devotion and obsession. Until I saw that film I had the impression that her (IA's) most important task in films was to look good. Admittedly, I did not know that many films with her in it. And she was, and is, pretty good at fulfilling that task. Her multi-faceted role as Camille Claudel was truly spectacular, considerably better than that of her colleague Gérard Depardieu who, nevertheless, was quite impressive as Rodin.
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Watch at your own peril!
Neel V Kumar21 October 1999
A *very* powerful film about a woman and her life. Acting and setup is so good that it can leave permanent scars on your psyche. Hitchcock can scare for a few minutes, while this movie can scare you for life. Do not watch while depressed. I give it a minimum of 8 out of 10. Wonderful job.
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Seeing What Is Not There
Gene Crokus8 July 2004
An exhibit of Rodin's sculptures was circling the Western United States a few years back. In any gallery in which they were exhibited they snapped heads; there are few figures that speak with such authority or superiority, mute testimony, like the Easter Island figures, to as much effort and skill. And so the movie `Camille Claudel', in like fashion, snaps heads in its understated power and commitment to craft.

Like Ansel Adams, Rodin stretched nature beyond what was possible – they both showed us something that was not there and in the rendering made representations so striking they had no precedent and thus set the bar higher for subsequent generations of artists. As history played out, the far less well known sculptor Camille Claudel made substantial contributions but her tie to Rodin (and eventually her personal decline) for a period in the late nineteenth century is the focus in this instance. In truth, her story demanded to be filmed; she stands a remarkable artist and most importantly the passion, talent and influence (inarguably on Rodin) she possessed went well beyond the `colorful' label oft attached to the gifted.

Historically, this film is probably not a bad representation of how events turned in her life. There are many issues and turns, and years for that matter, the details of which remain unclear to this day. But in its entirety this is a marvelous interpretation of the record. And without doubt Isabelle Adjani was the right actor for the job.

Stunningly beautiful, there are few women in history as arresting as Isabelle is; certainly Camille was not as lovely, but the resemblance is darned good as compared to actors chosen to portray historical figures in most movies based on true events and the people that were part of them. That Adjani brings some of the passion is certain. After all, bizarre, or at least socially unacceptable, behavior resulted in her eventual incarceration, so we know she was a handful.

Many of the key points of her upbringing are addressed; her father's stern and inconsistent yet lovingly supportive position in her life (this is more forcefully impressed on us as the years progress); her mother's complete non-support and dismissal of all that Camille does; her relationship with her less understanding and conflicted brother. But it is the period when she meets and falls for Rodin (and he with her) and their consequent tumultuous affair runs its course that is actually the focus of the film.

Gérard Depardieu's contribution as Rodin is probably the best work he has done. He looks (Rodin was 40 when he met the 21 year old Camille) very much as Rodin did in this period of his life. His love for his work, Camille and promoting his own career are his passions. We are lead through the minefield of his own making (his inability to get off a dime and marry Camille is their eventual downfall) and we are not totally sympathetic to his behavior. But this is the stuff of real life; as Seneca said, all art is but imitation of nature and both his and her own work convey their conflicted convictions.

The musical score haunts us, as it should, right from the opening of the film. Almost never detracting, it instead correctly underscores certain points in the narrative; but it is the opening where we see Camille scooping clay from beneath a Parisian street (and this is a well-crafted sequence) where we feel the upsurge of powerful currents operating. The music heightens our interest as we determine exactly what we are seeing.

Other nice touches in the film include an occasion where Camille and Rodin together study a model on a turntable, spinning the model about as metaphor for the emotional maelstrom gathering momentum. We also see a great moment when Rodin is caressing Camille's face, intercut with shots of him working clay into an as yet unidentifiable sculpture.

What follows the breakup of Camille and Rodin is essentially a retrospective of the downslide of a remarkable talent. The story of Claudel's own diminishing output of work and the steady erosion of her inability to cope with reality is frightening in its telling. At a meeting with Rodin some time after they have parted company she remarks that she has changed, and offers that `Nothing that's monstrous is foreign to me'. And so she truly (and sadly) withdraws into a world of her own making.

Rating: Four Stars.
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A Celebration Of A Mourning
Myshkin_Karamazov12 February 2008
While and after seeing Camille Claudel, one wonders if one should celebrate the artist that could have been, or rather mourn the moronic hypocrites populating her world. A world whose Marquesean death was foretold.

Almost everyone played by the supporting cast displayed (or tried to hide) how acutely and incurably they were suffering with diseases, physical and mental. With the sole and occasional exception of her father, everyone else treated the artist in a less than human manner. Despot mother, Hypocrite brother, Deceitful love! What real treasures had this Genius woman of her times to cope with! To top it all she happened to be living in such a dysfunctional society which years later, a great filmmaker and artist of the same nation, Jean Renoir, was to label as "corrupt to the core". Amen to Renoir. This film like most any other film depicting the real dilemma of a society, makes one pay an additional salute to his Le Regle Du Ju.
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Nice Face, Nice Sculptures!
ccthemovieman-125 April 2006
There's some nice photography in here, which is what helped me get through this long (159 minutes) soap opera-type story about the girlfriend (the title name, played by Isabelle Adjani) of the famous sculptor Rodin (Gerard Depardieu).

There are a lot of closeups of Adjani which was fine with me as I never get tired of seeing her looks. "Camille" also was a sculptor but when the romance with Rodin went sour, she went literally crazy. This movie details that saga.

In addition to the cinematography, you get to see some great sculptures - really good pieces of work. I just wish they had shown how the artists accomplished these pieces. Since they are just actors, all it did was show the two leads chipping away chunks of clay, never showing any detail work.

At least, the film made me appreciate the art form more.
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Alain Cuny
sandover17 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I wonder how is it possible that, since so many of the comments deal with the level of acting in this film, no one pays tribute to Alain Cuny portraying Camille Claudel's father. His presence is, to say the least, commanding. Watch the scene, when Rodin visits the family at their cottage, where the two lovers half-hidden behind curtains indulge in their lust in the front of the tableau, while father Claudel slaps his son at the background. This is crucial, for two reasons: it displays that the actors here are working as an ensemble, and that the steeling and always, thoughtfully, underplayed tension between father and son, cuttingly explain Laurent Grevill's portrait of Paul Claudel as a believer's thrust undercut by a profoundly melancholic repression and the guilt of the witness who spills into being an onlooker. This is, perhaps, the grimmest intuition the film offers us in terms of the artist's relation to his place in society.

All this is brought to sublime heights when Alain Cuny recites some verses of Paul Claudel: not one of the film's tensions is left out and, yet, the instance breaks out of its context. This is a masterclass of acting in a nutshell.
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Biography of a female artist...
MarieGabrielle21 September 2009
And rarely shown on US television, I recently caught this on Ovation channel; luckily I have satellite.

Isabelle Adjani is wonderful as tragic Camille Claudel, apprentice to narcissistic sculptor Auguste Rodin, who is at the nadir of his profession when he meets Claudel. Claudel is at first naive and young, falling for Rodin and his grandiosity, he declares her work genius, but gradually undermines her spirit and mental health. We see a foreshadowing of his envy when he first meets Claudel, and comments that at least she still has a passion for her art, which he has lost long ago.

The photography of the stark and cold Paris studio in February is haunting, we feel the cold as Claudel sets up her clay in the crumbling white studio, with no heat or fire. Paris is freezing in February.

Claudel's family denigrates her ambition, except for her brother who empathizes but cannot really help an aspiring female artist (unheard of, and certainly a bane to Rodin's ego).

Eventually her unraveling begins, as she feels Rodin is conspiring her downfall; Claudel had suffered a form of paranoid schizophrenia, interesting that as a female artist she garners less sympathetic reviews than the ego-maniacal Picasso or misogynistic Man Ray.

Overall this film is a do not miss which deserves 10/10 for tackling a difficult and painful subject some would rather turn a blind eye toward: women artists in history.
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Uncommon Clay
writers_reign19 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Opinion - on this board - appears to be divided on this one and I find myself on the side of the boosters. This movie is nothing if not sumptuous, crammed with images and imagery that fill the screen and spill over the sides - not for nothing did Nyuttens photograph Manon des Sources among others - so that decent acting and a workable plot would almost be a bonus. In fact the film has it all; an interesting and little explored background (sculpting) a story of two real artists who were active almost, if not quite, within living memory who are portrayed by two exceptional actors - Adjani and Depardieu teamed up again a couple of years ago in another 'period' story, Bon Voyage - who are able to extract the last nuance out of their characters. Rumour has it that it was Adjani who originated the project and even if her only object was to provide a meaty role for her herself she is to be applauded for doing so. Whoever and however this project was originated and brought to fruition it was a great idea which has been magnificently realized.
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superb acting, brilliant cinematography
sem-224 February 2001
This is the film that shows that French cinema is still the best in the world. Adjani's acting is mesmerizing, cinematographer uses his camera with such an ease that Hollywood would never match. While watching the film, I lost sense of time... I didn't expect much from this movie after reading complaints that it's too long. What a pleasant surprise! Don't listen to anybody: if you like the cinema, this film will impress you, if you think that Titanic is the best romantic movie ever made - then you might never get it...
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Camille stays a mystery
DVR_Brale6 July 2017
You might want to ask yourself what is wrong with a particular society. There are several ways to approach that question one of which is observing scars society (together with culture) inflicts on you and other people. One major difficulty with that approach is distinguishing between ones' emotional problems and real cultural problems. That difficulty is what we are faced with when watching Camille Claudel.

A brilliant young sculptress starts going mad after going through a tragic romantic experience. We see so many talent and potential wasted at such an early age in such a sad way. Immediately we question is there always a simple and reliable explanation for such a tragic failure. Her behavior inflicts her family and almost everybody around her. She becomes obsessed with sculpting; what has now become her religion. She's tormented by hypocrisy of French bourgeois. We see many factors being taken into account in re-telling her story - something we see very rarely in American cinematography.

Back to the question. She undoubtedly is going mad but the reason behind it stays mystery for us. Not only for us but her family as well. Camille doesn't even realize how mistaken she is and she is eventually hospitalized for the rest of her life. That's the genius behind this biographical drama: nobody knows what is happening inside Camille's heart. Her genius and fragility cannot be analyzed; she's taken them into her grave. Nevertheless we may conjecture about it and at best learn a thing or two.

It's obvious that playing this role is delicate. Isabelle Adjani is absolutely gorgeous here; one of the most beautiful female characters ever - that is until she goes demented. She was able to appear as an undivided personality in a sense that her happiness and failures are not disconnected from each other but form an unanimous whole. Only Ellen Burstyn's role in Requiem for a Dream is this impressive although she takes much less screen time. Other members of the cast have been very successful in communicating complex emotions too.

I've always held that atmosphere and spirit is what makes a movie memorable and convincing. Seeing this drama was for me more than a movie experience - it gave me a deeper insight about French esprit libre. I strongly recommend this movie to all of you who are looking for a movie not made for pure fun but for reflection.
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compelling performances
SnoopyStyle6 November 2015
It's 1885. Camille Claudel (Isabelle Adjani) is a French sculptor and sister of writer Paul Claudel. Famed sculptor Auguste Rodin (Gérard Depardieu) is taken with her work and hires her as an assistant. She becomes both his mistress and protégé. There is prejudice against woman sculptors. The complicated relationship and professional difficulties cause Camille to descend into madness.

Isabelle Adjani is terrific. Her performance is compelling and so is Depardieu. I really like the actors doing their sculpting. I like the obsessive nature of the art work. The plot lacks a certain intensity. It would be helpful to foreshadow her madness earlier in the movie or else the romance caused her mental issues. That's very old fashion melodrama. The running time is also a bit long at almost three hours.
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dynamic period piece with a strong lead performance
Michael Neumann9 November 2010
The familiar line dividing creativity and madness narrows and disappears in this downbeat but dramatic biography of the 19th century sculptress, who after meeting Auguste Rodin went from apprentice to mistress to madwoman, driven to the asylum and professional obscurity by her inability to escape from under the shadow of her celebrated lover. Isabelle Adjani gives the title character a headstrong, stubborn vitality that turns electrifying as she loses her sanity; in contrast, Rodin (pronounced by an associate "the biggest lecher since Victor Hugo") fades into the background clay, and not even the reliable Gerard Depardieu can flesh out the underwritten role. The film is beautifully produced, and even at such a punishing length (almost two and a half hours) the pace never flags. It moves twice as quickly as any film half its length, using a brisk, hopscotch style that almost seems rushed trying to get all the facts in.
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In the Hole
tedg31 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

Like the life it depicts, this has flashes of brilliance but is overall a failure. On the plus side, we have an appealing enough actress who has what it takes to convince her she would be desirable to Rodin. But there is no conveyance of the realities and burdens of talent, no glimpses into the mind of madness and creative genius.

There is a nice, somewhat sculptural framing, beginning with the `stealing' clay from a workmens' ditch (and hen going to incestual, erotic visual poetry. This is recalled near the end with her similarly burying her work.

But in between is rather dull, predictable march through some events. What a great film this could have been.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
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A brilliant film for the intellectual romantic.
Madfilm14 May 1999
A very mind-blowing glimpse into the lives of two sculptors, mad with love and the insanity that often plagues people of artistic genius. Superb acting that allows you to forget you are watching a film, drowning you in the art, love, and madness of Rodin and Camille Claudel. A definite must for the intellectual film fanatic (movies that feed your mind) or fan of foreign film. I'd rate this a solid 8 stars out of ten. A breathtaking piece of film. Rent it tonight!
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Just expensive melodrama .....
snoozer16 April 2005
What is it about French *EPICS* that makes them so dreary? 'Camille Claudel' suffers from the same intrinsic problems as its predecessors ('Entre Nous' comes to mind). Too much style ... not enough substance. Make no mistake folks ... this is a very lavish (read expensive) production. Perhaps that is the problem. Too much time and money spent on production design and cinematography and not enough time on script development. This is supposed to be a character driven piece yet somehow the 'story' just gets lost in all that grandeur. It's only during the last 3rd of the film do we we actually get to see any sort of 'performance' from Isabelle Adjani. For the rest, both her and Depardieu are minnows lost at sea in a maze of bloated film sets awash with moody lighting.

Yes .. the cinematography IS breathtaking so kudos to Pierre Lhomme. I beg to differ with other reviewers about the musical score tho. It's one of the worst i have endured in recent times. More often than not it seems to be totally out of place (and out of context) to the scene we are witnessing ... almost as if it had been scored without actually *seeing* the film.

I cant help but feel how this story would have been handled by a director with some understanding of the nature of art, but more importantly ... the ARTIST. Those having seen Jacques Rivette's 'La Belle Noiseuse' will understand. And for those interested in Depardieu driven historical pieces, seek out (the hard to find) Le Colonel Chabert. He's performance in that film is exquisite.

This is an overly melodramatic film and a sad waste of money. They could have made 3 films for what this one must have cost. Not recommended.
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Read a book; go for a walk
ferdinand19322 January 2010
While the design and locations and photography are strong assets in this film; it is a turgid and melodramatic affair which demonstrates the limits of cinema to convey truth.

The case is the use of the soundtrack music: a mix of Gustav Mahler and Andrew Lloyd-Webber that plays constantly and loudly, and would have made Max Steiner grimace at its over use as it instructs the audience how difficult; how ecstatic; how tortured it is to be an artist. And then it really counts the story elides the details at the end.

This heightened and kitsch exploitation of emotions was once well ridiculed by Peter Ackroyd about a Yukio Mishima book: This is not writing, this is Barbara Cartland. Precisely the same critique can be made of this film: a deceptive, mawkish vanity project.
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well made, not always "fun" to watch
MartinHafer19 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is a very serious drama about the life of a sculptress who eventually went mad. I think it's rather interesting that Isabelle Adjani was chosen for the role, as a decade earlier she played the obsessed daughter of Victor Hugo (who also was eventually institutionalized). BOTH characters were based on real women, both lived around the same time period, both were French, both suffered the same fate and both completely lost contact with reality and their personalities disintegrated in the end.

In the case of this movie, Camille suffers from Paranoid Schizophrenia (with signs of Disorganized Schizophrenia as well), as her problems in life all are the "result of August Rodin and people that work for him to help him destroy her career". While it is obvious from the movie that Rodin was a slug and mistreated her because he was a narcissistic, beyond sleeping with her and casting her aside, there was no plot by him to ruin her career. But, unfortunately Camille created an involved delusion that this was so--blaming her failures on him and not the fact that she was erratic and acted "crazy" (living in filth, having the entire first floor of her home flooded and doing nothing about it, etc.). I liked how Adjani handled this but I was especially impressed by the makeup people who made her look very haggard and old--she looked the part.

This is NOT a "feel good movie" by any stretch of the imagination. However, it is well-made and compelling and well worth seeing and a good study of mental illness.

NOTE TO PARENTS--the film has quite a bit of nudity. While it is NOT gratuitous at all (after all, sculpting often requires nude models), this film would probably be best seen by adults.
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Beautiful cinematography
Figtree20 October 2001
This film is very beautiful to watch. The composition and colors of the shots are both exquisite. The scenes of Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin together are very powerful. Adjani and Depardieu have some chemistry together, and it shows.

Although Adjani does a good job of acting, I thought that this movie did drag in places. I had rented it, and started glancing at a magazine after about an hour or so -- not a good sign! Still, it has a lot going for it with the good acting and beautiful shots. It is worth seeing for those who love art history as well. It is about 2.5 hours long, not extremely long as films go.
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