The passionate Merchant Ivory drama tells the story of Françoise Gilot (Natascha McElhone), the only lover of Pablo Picasso (Sir Anthony Hopkins) who was strong enough to withstand his ferocious cruelty, and move on with her life.
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Adam Coleman Howard,
In 1943, a young painter, Françoise Gilot (1921- ) (Natascha McElhone) meets Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) (Sir Anthony Hopkins), 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 (Julianne Moore), Marie-Thérèse (Susannah Harker) (whose daughter is Picasso's), and Olga Koklowa (Jane Lapotaire), 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 saw this film initially in 1996. I remember having to work in the morning and had a few hours to kill in the afternoon. I decided to give it a try, because it starred Anthony Hopkins and I'm a fan. Being a Merchant Ivory film I thought it was going to be boring. It wasn't. It held my interest until the ending credits. I sat amazed when it was finished....just processing what I had just witnessed.
Pablo Picasso has to be one of the most complex of human beings ever. Surviving Picasso chronicles his love affair with Françoise Gilot. He spent from 1944 to 1953 with her, and fathered two of her children, but wouldn't marry her. Gilot is realistically played by Natascha McElhone. We get to see how difficult Picasso was to live with. Anthony Hopkins plays an emotionally weak, yet tyrannical genius. Literally, holding this young woman hostage. He was the father of her children, but never gave her any monetary compensation to raise those kids. She had to depend upon the kindness of her grandmother.
Of all of his women, we start to see that she alone understood his weaknesses. I got the impression that out of all of the women he was involved with, she probably loved him the most. He knew this and used this to hold her his emotional prisoner.
Surviving Picasso is not an easy film to sit through. You begin to hate Picasso for manipulating everyone he comes in contact with. My thought was that he was a spoiled child that never grew up. He relished when his women fought over him, pined over him, and even did desperate things to show him how much they loved him. Yet, he didn't seem to appreciate any of their efforts.
I was totally drawn into this film and think one needs to give it a chance. It's a thinking person's film. The character development is complex, but you begin to have sympathy for the victims of this madman.
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