The only way for me to critique "The Artist and the Model" is from my own experience.
I've been a writer for almost 50 years.
I had a serious relationship with a then-locally famous painter.
I posed nude as a model for various artists.
I've also seen several great movies about famous artists, or fictional ones, most of whom had to overcome "blocks" between themselves and the art they envisioned.
One movie that stood out for me was 1991's "La Belle Noiseuse", a 4 hour long French film about a once-renowned artist, now elderly, who started a painting of the movie's title, but couldn't find the spirit or the passion needed to finish it.
That is, until a budding painter and his beautiful wife, played by Emmanuelle Beart, shows up at his stately retreat.
She agrees to pose for him, and from then on, the movie follows the interactions between his fully nude young model (who resembles the woman in the title's painting) and this masterful artist who has finally found (again) his needed inspiration.
In "The Artist and the Model", we see basically the same thematic elements.
There is the once-famous artist (in this case, a sculptor), now elderly (much older, it appears, than the other), who has lost the spirit of creation, a Muse.
There is that vision he has of the perfect artistic work.
And there is the young attractive woman who suddenly appears in his life, and agrees to pose nude for him, in exchange for a room and a small salary.
There are immense differences between the two movies, as well as many similarities.
The major difference is in when it takes place.
"Noiseuse" is a "modern" (circa 1991) movie, with modern sensibilities as to sexuality and nudity.
There's a certain intimacy that plays out between the artist and his model.
And the woman is as much the protagonist as she is the inert model who just reclines or sits in still motion.
In "The Artist...", which takes place in France in 1943, the model is a refugee from Franco's rule, who sidelines as an "underground railroad" freedom fighter.
The artist's wife sees her sleeping in a doorway in a marketplace, and offers her room and board in exchange for becoming her husband's model.
At first a bit reluctant to pose nude, she finally agrees.
The best scenes, in both movies, are those showing the slow, intense, almost mystical process that happens between what an artist "sees", and the connection his model has to that vision, which leads to a finished "work of art".
But who IS that model?
How can a complete stranger suddenly become this artist's lifetime vision?
Does it have to do with some memory of youthful love?
Is her body shape fully proportional to his definition of perfection?
Most of all, in that binding of "the artist and the model", is the intimacy brought forth by her being fully naked, in truth, of a sexual nature?
(As a model, I asked myself that question, as I looked at the female students in the art class to see if there was any sexual attraction between us!)
In a very poignant scene, that question is answered, to a degree.
While both movies are brilliant in their portrayal of the process of artistic creation, and of the needs and personalities of the models, their endings left me with divergent feelings.
I won't give it away, but I HATED the ending of "The Artist and the Model".
Not so much for what it showed, but for what it did NOT show!
"La Belle Noiseuse" ended much more straightforwardly, and therefore, satisfyingly!
However, I strongly recommend BOTH movies, for serious artists (and models), and for those who appreciate who those people are.