The Artist and the Model (2012) Poster

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Great premise, but could have been so much more
Horst_In_Translation5 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
"El artista y la modelo" is writer-director Fernando Trueba's newest project and his return to live action after a thoroughly successful trip into the world of animation, which brought him his first Academy Award nomination for "Chico & Rita" two years ago. Almost more impressive is the writer behind "The Artist and the Model": Jean-Claude Carrière won an Oscar 50 years ago, had several nominations afterward and is known to be a longtime companion of Luis Buñuel. Carrière is consequently into his 80s already and same goes for the lead actor here: Jean Rochefort. He plays a sculptor who finds a new model that inspires him to create one more sculpture, possibly his masterpiece.

2012 was certainly a huge year for black and white movies in Spain. "Blancanieves" dominated the Goya Awards and "El artista y la modelo" wasn't far behind with nomination in pretty much all the relevant categories, even if it did not win that much. While I'm usually very fond of black-and-white films, the topic of art may be a difficult one for these. It may have hurt the overall result even a bit. You could certainly make a point that it's appropriate for the bleakness of this film taking place during wartime, but still the magnificent colors of the landscape or even the people (especially Aida Folch obviously) could have elevated the film considerably. The movie is very similar to "Renoir", France's most recent Oscar submission for the foreign language category, but as a whole I think I'd prefer "Renoir" and the colors are one main aspect, as is the look at the early years of the young Jean Renoir and his first steps into the movie industry. That's missing here a bit, maybe a second minor plot to keep the audience interested.

The ending of "El artista y la modelo" is a difficult one. You'll either love it or hate it. That much is safe. You could certainly argue that it was not really foreseeable and mainly included for shock purposes, but you could also say that predictability can be boring and this way of closing the film certainly wasn't. It's up to you. One parallel that I really enjoyed a lot was the different, yet similar, ways Rochefort's character said goodbye to the soldier and the girl. Both included th pretending of a possibility they'll meet again, which probably never existed. However, both were so different from comparing the characters he said goodbye to and his relation to these that you could certainly analyze them to death.

Finally, I'd like to add that the great Claudia Cardinale and Chus Lampreave occasionally added some nice comic relief to the film that was very much appreciated as the film as a whole was very bleak. I was not particularly fond of the inclusion of the girl's boyfriend and I felt it added almost nothing to the story, maybe a slight reference to the war, but that aspect was covered already enough in my opinion with the arrival of Götz Otto's character. Rochefort's character once said in the film. He doesn't care about the war, he just wants to finish a sculpture, which summarizes the movie pretty accurately. The war is the setting, but it's really just the frame and does not play a major role. The center is the artistry.
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kosmasp8 October 2014
First off, there is a lot of nudity. Though mostly it is not sexualized nudity (if you dismiss a bit of voyeurism that will be going on at some point). But it's necessary, because in this case if is there to prove a point. Actually to show us the view/take on things by the main male character, who is a sculptor (mainly).

There is different takes on life and what it can portray or what it is. There is also a spin on the Adam and Eve story here (which might be too on the nose and a comparison the movie itself does not shy away from). The actors are really good and the movie has a nice pace, even if at first you're not sure where it's all heading. And it's in black and white, like the poster suggest and surely the trailer is showing too ;o)
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"Beauty reveals itself in places that seem impossible."
classicsoncall25 August 2020
Warning: Spoilers
Not knowing anything about this film, I thought it was made in the Fifties as I was watching it. The black and white cinematography hearkens back to an earlier time, and it seemed appropriate for the era the story was set in. I can relate to other reviewers who would have liked this movie better in color, but I think that would have distracted from the ambience of the picture. It was serious in tone for the most part, as the aged sculptor (Jean Rochefort) comes upon a source of new inspiration in the person of Spanish refugee Mercè (Aida Folch). I thought it interesting that if this movie WERE made in the Fifties, it might have been Claudia Cardinale in the role of Cros's new found muse instead of his wife.

I found two separate sequences of dialog between the artist and the model to be fascinating. The first was their interpretation of Rembrandt's sketch on the postcard, and the way Cros cleverly led Mercè into finding her own meaning in the artist's work. The other was the twist in the story of Adam and Eve, a decidedly incompatible interpretation of the Bible story. All the while, there was this theme of an 'idea' that Cros was struggling to find in his own work, and never really being able to reach that goal over the course of a long lifetime.

I suppose that one could interpret the ending of the film in more than one way. Another reviewer suggests that Cros's gunshot might have been used to simply scare off the birds in the trees. I never even gave that a thought, having determined that the artist had finally achieved his master work in the statue of the pensive Mercè, the inspirational 'idea' provided accidentally during one of her restless moments. His death by suicide would have been a personal acknowledgment that he had no more left in him to contribute to his craft. Yet at the same time, his action was less than noble after bidding his wife goodbye for a vacation trip to visit a friend.
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Lively and gorgeous drama set in France during WWII and masterfully realized by Fernando Trueba
ma-cortes21 September 2013
Splendid film from the Academy Award winning director of ¨Belle Epoque¨ and ¨Chico and Rita¨ . It deals with a semi-retired sculptor Marc Cros (Jean Rochefort) , an old artist , lives with his wife named Lea (performed by ex-Italian bombshell Claudia Cardinale) who is now in his seventies and thickly bespectacled housekeeper (Chus Lampreave) , all of them reside in the rural south of France , in the middle but safe of the WWII that rages in the distance . He seems to have reached the end of his life and of his art . One day, Léa gives shelter to a marvelous young Spanish political refugee called Mercè (Aida Folch) . Their life is simplistic and gentle , experiencing little impact from the war that rages on in the north of the occupied country by Nazis (Gotz Otto) . The arrival of the young girl inspires the artist to once again to draw and develop his artistic skills . Marc soon understands that the girl, who agrees to pose for him, inspires him and gives life .

Enjoyable drama with historical elements about France occupation from Nazis ; including enjoyable performances , adequate set design and delightfully shot . Thought-provoking as well as touching tale about an elderly sculptor who embarks on this last artistic and sensual adventure . ¨The artist and the model¨ results to be an agreeable story to deal with youthful , beauty , art , being developed in mirth , lively and vital style , though a sad ending . A very pleasant drama , plenty of sensitivity , emotion , artistic scenes and abundant nudism in charge of Aida Folch . This is Trueba's return to top form, with an intelligent and engaging script which uses entertaining situations to give us a good movie in a high sense and intimate sensitivity and that kept me entertained for the almost two hours of duration . It is well set and is as marvelously filmed as it is written and acted . This is one of those rare gems that does not stray from its purpose - to be a celebration of love , nature , and romance and sensitive tale of an old man to seek and find the beauty . Oscarized director Fernando Trueba , also writes the interesting script along with prestigious screenwriter Jean Claude Carriere , Luis Buñuel's ordinary . Filmed in his usual formal and luxurious style , without leaving a trace the joyful themes , in terms of dramatic and narrative excitement . The tone of The Artist and The Model is warm and reflective, centred on the contrasting dynamic of the gypsy -like Mercè , Aida Folch - housed by our couple , Rochefort-Cardinale , after escaping war-torn Spain - and the wizened, yet passionate Marc . The film is light and never somber, no small accomplishment from Fernando Trueba and his team . Starring French character actor Jean Rochefort - adds to the director's already eclectic oeuvre, making for satisfying viewing. Fernando Trueba had thought about doing this movie for years but it wasn't until his choice for the character Jean Rochefort called him up and said that he was going to retire that Trueba finally decided to go ahead and do it.

When Fernando Trueba discussed the idea of the movie with Aida Folch, without even a screenplay, Folch left everything in Spain and moved to Paris for a few months to learn French properly and be ready for the project. Very good secondary cast formed by familiar faces such as Chus Lampreave , Gotz Otto and veteran Claudia Cardinale . Luxurious and evocative cinematography in black and white, shot in sumptuous monochrome , by Daniel Vilar , one of the best Spanish cameramen who has efficiently worked in Hollywood .Being filmed on location in wonderful landscapes from Perpignan, Pyrénées-Orientales, France ,Olot, Girona, Catalonia, Spain . Trueba had had this project in store since 1990 , initially he was to make this film in collaboration with Maximo, his sculptor brother , but his brother died and he gave up the whole thing until 2010. In fact , the film is dedicated to his brother , Maximo Trueba , and sound engineer , Pierre Genet , both of whom sadly deceased .

This simple , attractive and delightful motion picture was well directed by Oscar-winning director Fernando Trueba , as the flick is entertaining and well worth your time . His first success was Ópera Prima (1980) following the style of the "Madrid comedy". Trueba had major success with Sé Infiel y No mires Quién (1985) also known as : Be Wanton and Tread No Shame , starting a longer collaboration with the producer Andrés Vicente Gómez . He went on directing numerous successes such as Coarse salt , Too Much , Year of Enlightment , Milagro de Candeal , Niña De Tus Ojos or The Girl of Your Dreams , Calle 54 , Embrujo De Shanghai , Chico and Rita and recently : The Artist and the Model. The multi-award winner in Spain Fernando Trueba was President of the Spanish Academy of Motion Picture Arts and he received the 1994 Oscar for Best Foreign Film to Belle Epoque (1992)and when accepting his Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, director (Fernando Trueba) said: "I would like to believe in God in order to thank him for this prize, but I only believe in (Billy Wilder), so... Thank you, Mr. Wilder!". Wilder himself reportedly phoned Trueba a few days later for acknowledgment and told him: "Hello Fernando, I'm God".
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A warm, slow, sometimes overly slow dig into simple meanings of art and life
secondtake14 January 2015
The Artist and the Model (2012)

This is a movie, a poem, about the existence of beauty and meaning in art, and in the life of an artist. in France during WWIL

This is an impossible subject for any movie—it demands too much be spelled out. The more obtuse, abstract, and indirect it is the better. Luckily that's where this movie tries to go. Where it fails is when it specifies its ideas. It sometimes states its wisdom. There is another better movie somewhere—not yet made—that could touch these ideas and imbue them with fullness without making it concrete. That one is the masterpiece.

In a way the fact I'm talking about this is proof that something happens here. It's a gorgeous, thoughtful movie. The old—very old—sculptor finds a young—very young— model and seems to come to life again. And in his work in these last years he finds something deep and lasting, or seemingly so. The model, in her own naive way, is actually more enriched than he is by all of this, and we see her enlightenment in small ways, even if on some level she doesn't care, not in the way the artist does.

But the artist is the center of things here, in a brilliant performance. His work, what they show of it in the movie (I speak as an artist and art historian), is pathetic and weak, and in a way that's an achilles heel here—-his huge inspiration is just another cemetery sculpture, nothing much after all. Maybe that's the hidden intention, but I don't think so.

The film is a gorgeous, simple black and white widescreen filming that is perfect for the material. The plot is simple—there are just a couple of interesting interruptions to the model and the artist working and growing together. At the end of the day and the end of life for the old man, it all presses on us as we watch—hence the pathos.

One of the stars is the French countryside itself—the olive oil on bread, the light through the trees. In a way it's a poem to a perfect existence, as much as life allows on this small planet.

See this? It really depends. It's a patient movie—requiring patience, as well. But it's beautiful and warm. And the acting is excellent. The torch is passed. The war is ending. Hope has some kind of connection to the profound, and the understanding that life is more than just the day's needs.
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An Artist's View of Life
atlasmb25 April 2014
One review here called this film "bleak". I thought it anything but.

Marc Cros (played by Jean Rochefort) is an observer--of life, of nature, of beauty, of life's rhythms--like any true artist must be. His is a special quest, a search for inspiration and for a project that is worthy of his time. He finds a young model named Merce (played by Aida Folch) and sets out to find his inspiration.

Art might be viewed as an abstract principle or as a part of life. Cros's search is a philosophical one, but it takes place during the Nazi occupation of his homeland, France. At one point, the war invades his artistic sanctuary, but he is skilled at focusing on beauty even in such circumstances.

In the end, "The Artist and the Model" shows us the fleeting nature of inspiration, the transience and persistence of beauty, and the sometimes obsessive nature of the artist in finding his inspiration.
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Though not as snappy as NUDE NUNS WITH BIG GUNS . . .
tadpole-596-91825610 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
... director Joseph Guzman's controversial 2010 consideration of similar themes to those dealt with by Fernando Trueba in THE ARTIST AND THE MODEL, the latter movie tries its best, mixing together nude models, Nazis, and at least one gun key to its plot. A tad more contemplative than the former flick, MODEL centers on multiple love triangles. There's Mr. Artist's one-time nude model, who's aged into a different perspective, and her relationship with her husband's latest unclothed muse. On top of that, there's the pyramid formed by the artist, his most recent Au Naturel poser chick, and the mysterious wounded guy who turns up in the woods. Finally, there's this said sculptor, his Nazi biographer, and the kraut's adjutant--just try to figure out how this trio fits together. With a passel of voyeuristic school kids thrown in for good measure, perhaps Trueba has bitten off more than he chews. I, for one, find his gun violence LESS pleasing than that contained in the NUDE NUNS flick.
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Art is life. Life is art
guy-bellinger28 May 2013
Movies like "Belle époque" or "Two Much", directed by Spanish filmmaker Fernando Trueba, were pleasant but rather shallow. But for some time (particularly since "Chico & Rita" in 2010), Trueba's cinema, while still celebrating woman and her beauty, has become more and more profound, something art lovers will certainly not complain about. Belonging to this vein,"L'artiste et son modèle" ("The Artist and the Model" in the USA), the Spanish director's latest effort, not only displays this newly acquired maturity but it is even downright close to perfection. As a matter of fact the viewers, provided they are not put off by the film's slow contemplative rhythm (but a rhythm there is), will be invited to a fascinating journey into the heart of things, into the essence of life. No less! With "The Artist and the Model", Trueba has not made just another movie, but achieved a real work of art that touches us deeply, building on a very simple but all the more powerful story: Marc, an elderly sculptor living in the heart of nature, far from the madding war (I mean World War II), finds a new muse in the (charming) person of a young Spanish refugee and undertakes the last (and certainly the most important) work of his life. And this is not just another story either, but one told with oozing sincerity and total commitment. Both sensual and philosophical, Marc's last adventure (inspired by the last experiences of Aristide Maillol working with his final muse Diana Vierny) allows Fernando Trueba to examine two themes of utmost importance to him: his love of beauty and particularly of the female body and his love of art (and of sculpture in particular). Another mark of dedication is the emotional tribute he pays to his brother, a famous sculptor who died prematurely in the 1990s. Now at the top of his art, the formerly superficial director has become able to describe life and nothing else, without relying on any easy plot twist or cinematic effect, without the obvious advantages of color (but what a luminous black and white cinematography!), without the support of a musical score (but what an enhancement of the sounds produced by nature, by objects moving, by human voices!).

Having, more than one common point with the character he embodies, Jean Rochefort is the right man in the right place. Like the aging sculptor, he is at the end of a long and successful career. Like Mercè's sculpture for Marc, this film could well be the achievement of Rochefort's life time. In any case, the French actor, who lends the old sculptor his own weary and caustic sensibility, is the right man. His female partner, Aida Folch, who plays Mercè, the young model, gives off the right dose of sensuality while managing to make apparent her intelligence and her strong convictions beyond the academic beauty of her body. In the more discreet role of Marc's longtime wife, Claudia Cardinale turns a convincing performance.

"L'artiste et son modèle" is one of the best films made on the theme of artists at work. Its message is, just like its script, both simple and powerful : "Learn to look at the world around you. Do not be content to give a sweeping, utilitarian look, try to see things and living creatures the way they are, in all their tell-tale details. Just the way Marc teaches Mercè to look at a Rembrandt drawing in one of the most fascinating scenes of the movie. A valuable lesson, both of art and life.
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I kept waiting for the wisdom
jkbonner114 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I went to see this movie based on the premise that its chief theme concerned an older man, the artist Marc Clos (Jean Rochefort), who instills his wisdom of life to a young woman--his model Merce (Aida Folch), a young Catalan woman--before his life is over.

The year is 1943 (inferred because the battle of Stalingrad is mentioned several times) and France is occupied by the Germans. To capture this epoch, the movie's filmed in black and white. I understand this but I would have preferred color to capture the beauty of the physical landscape and the beauty of the Merce's bodyscape. But that's a minor quibble.

Merce has escaped from a Spanish prison camp where she was interned for five years after the end of the Spanish Civil War (1935-1938). She is hungry and in desperate need of shelter and drifts into the French border village where Marc and Lea Clos (Lea played effectively by Claudia Cardinale) live. Marc is a sculptor and Lea knows what kind of woman he likes to draw and sculpt. And Merce fits the bill. So she is given food and a place to sleep in Marc's studio over the stable. And she is paid to model for Marc.

Much of the movie involves Marc trying to find the right pose for Merce and he makes numerous drawings, many of which he discards, before finally setting out on the sculpture of her nude body.

The movie really doesn't have much conflict or driving force. Marc is a very taciturn artist who doesn't say much but gets annoyed at Merce because often she doesn't know what exactly he wants. She's new to being a model and he doesn't exactly articulate very well what he wants. I saw very little of Marc offering up his wisdom on life, due I suppose to his quiet non-talkative nature. He does effectively convey the frailty of his body as he feels Merce's supple youthful body with his hands. These actions rather than words inform us of his approaching end and reveal his sadness that life is slipping away. Marc is grouchy and taciturn, but basically he is a good man.

But all this doesn't lend itself to much drive in the movie. Finally Marc finishes his sculpture of Merce and she leaves via bicycle. Lea warns her to be careful because an occupying army in defeat is worse than a victorious one. But Merce encounters no Germans and Marc sits on his porch chair holding his old rifle on his lap. We see a cluster of birds in a tree. Then a shot rings out and they scatter. Did Marc commit suicide or did he fire to scare off the birds? Because he scattered a group of prying children with his gun, he might just as well have scattered the birds. Or maybe he decided that he'd beat death at its own game. We don't know.

The movie could have been more engaging although one could argue it makes its points more subtly. I rate it seven out of ten.
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Rochefort never disappoints
DapperDustin19 July 2020
I really liked the film and being about a sculptor was interesting to me since I like art. Rochefort was great in the lead. I liked him the Hairdressers Husband also amongst other films. Good scenery around the chateaux and countryside. The ending is typical of a lot of French movies. Recommended.
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Gentle, Charming and Beautifully Shot - A Visual Poem for Artists.
charlie-bell13316 December 2018
A gentle and fully realised poem that centres around the life of a french sculptor looking for inspiration during the Nazi occupation of France, and finds it with young-refugee Mercé, who agrees to model for him.

L'artiste et son modèle ticks all of its boxes. Gently meandering along until it's satisfying conclusion. You laugh along the way, you're introduced to new ideas and it's all very charming, but it's nothing challenging; it's just gentle and friendly which I can and will root for.

It toils in, and dances with integrity and honesty in one's work. Two themes that are developed so well, that I hung on to the sculptors every last word, completely absorbed with the progress of his work. The Rembrandt scene for example was superb; the aged sculptor begs his new, young and naive model to look at Art with focus and appreciation, leading to a wonderful interpretation of Rembrandts piece that, if I ever were to see it again, will forever be changed for me by this film.

However, what cements this film for me is perhaps what you may have already heard about: the black and white photography by Daniel Vilar. Believe the hype, it truly is something special. Wrapping Fernando Trueba's visual poem in always-interesting compositions, delicately lit interiors and gorgeously controlled exteriors, adding an entirely new depth to the film.

If you've read my other reviews you'll know I rarely mention cinematography as I don't care for it, or about it, but black and white has always been a soft spot of mine and this film revels in some of the most beautiful shots I've ever seen. I guarantee you could pause any frame of this film and you could see how meticulous photographing this film was.

I don't think a rating system works for this film, there's nothing you can give it without feeling like you're cheating it in some way, so hopefully the review can speak for itself. Watched on the BFI player website, with Mark Kermode's unursually hesitant Introduction.
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