For me this film came out of the blue. I originally thought it an older film, but no it is current. It is a very French film in both acting and execution. It is an outstanding piece of work. Production is exquisite, and the acting is first rate. Highly enjoyable and it will stay with you, for a while to come.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Exquisite ExplorationDec 13 2013
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Allow me to add my praise for this beautiful little film that focuses on an, admittedly, esoteric slice of life - that of the 'relationship' between the 'artist' and their 'model'. Of course, the story which this particular Spanish film tells is unique to a hypothetical situation between an aged male French sculptor (of some implied repute) and a young Spanish 'refugee' woman in a specific time & place (near the Franco/Spanish border during the latter days of WW II). It might be surmised that the intensity of the situational elements foster a 'relationship' that is, perhaps not 'typical' of that experienced by most 'artists & models' - but it does provide a platform for an evocative exploration of art, sexuality, and mortality.
As noted, the film is in (widescreen) black & white and is visually gorgeous throughout - the B&W format definitely accentuates the 'artful' quality of the entire piece and is so rich that it almost feels like it is in color! The performances are excellent - with the lion's share of the dialog being delivered by the male 'artist' character as he philosophizes about life, art, and the eternally entrancing qualities of the female form. The 2 principle female leads are also effective in their roles - the young 'model' is appropriately lovely (and naked a lot) and her character 'develops' beyond being just an attractive 'body' as the plot progresses. Despite the inherent potential for much 'artistic' nudity to be on display this is not a particularly 'sexy' film. The 'cause' for this reality is somewhat explained by actress Claudia Cardinale, portraying the aged artists mature wife (who was a model herself, back in the day). She offers an intriguing explanation to a group of curious young boys about how: 'the only two types of men who are 'allowed' to see women naked are doctors and artists - doctors so they can deal with women's health, and artists so that they can create beauty'!... both of those functions exhibiting a bit of a professional/clinical distance between the individuals involved. Regardless - in this filmic fantasy the line of intimacy is crossed by the artist & his model - despite the (considerable!) age discrepancy - in a very touching scene.
The film-maker utilizes the particular circumstance of this unique artistic relationship to provide a lyrical and thoughtful reflection on art, beauty, and the poignancy of the human condition. As an artist myself, I could totally 'relate' to many of the artistic sentiments expressed by the film's characters and would suggest that it might offer a window into artistic sensibilities for those who wonder about such things. This is a bit of artful cinema that really delivers on its' promise - totally recommended! - whether U R an 'artist' or not. Comment
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Between Art and the Artist Stands the ModelApril 15 2014
Aaron J. Krohn
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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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Exquiste!!!March 3 2014
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This is a marvelous film!!! The cinematography is spectacular... I have never seen a black and white so colorful and captivating - all those shades of black and white - the light - truly unusual and creative!!! The story is so typically French - love it! Both Jean Rochefort and Claudia Cardinale - the entire cast - made this film a standout!!!
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
(3.5 STARS) Beautiful to Look at But a Touch Short of GreatnessJan. 2 2014
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Set in German-occupied France during WWII, “The Artist and the Model” (“El artista y la modelo”) follows the story of an aged artist Marc Cros (Jean Rochefort), a renowned sculptor who has lost his inspiration, and Mercè (Aida Folch), a young Spanish woman running away from her country. The beautifully-shot black-and-white film, which is directed by Fernando Trueba (“Belle Époque”), is part inspired by Aristide Maillol’s work “The Mediterranean,” though the film’s story has nothing to do with the real-life artist.
The story itself is simple. It is about an interaction between Rochefort’s semi-retired artist who gets inspiration for his greatest and probably last work from the young woman, and the young woman who learns things about life and art from the elderly man. Claudia Cardinale appears as Léa, the artist’s wise and understanding wife (and former model for him) who helps out Mercè sleeping penniless in the street. Götz Otto is a German officer writing a book about the artist.
“The Artist and the Model” was Goya-nominated for thirteen categories including Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Screenplay (by Trueba and Jean-Claude Carrière, “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie”), Best Cinematography and Best Production Design (by Eugenio Caballero, “Pan’s Labyrinth”). But the film won none of them.
I was not surprised to know that because, well-acted and beautifully-shot as it is, “The Artist and the Model” lacks something – something that is emotionally involving, like the intense artistic struggle in “La belle noiseuse.” We don’t see much character development in the vharacters, especially in the model. In fact, the relationship between Götz Otto’s art-loving German officer and the artist is far more interesting than the one between the artist and the model. The subplots about the local children and resistance soldiers do not add much to the story.
But perhaps I didn’t like the film very much because of the decision the artist makes at the end of the film, which seems at odds with what we know about great artists and their passion for the art. I will not tell you about it here. See the movie for yourself. “The Artist and the Model” is beautiful and intelligent, but a touch short of greatness.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
If you liked "Renoir", you will love this one tooDec 9 2013
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"The Artist and The Model" (original title "El artista y la modelo"; 2012 release from Spain; 105 min.) brings the story of Marc Cros, an elderly sculptor who lives in the South of France with his wife Lea during WW II. As the movie opens, we see him walking in the country side, picking up a branch or a flower and trying to find some inspiration. Later, when he and his wife and the housemaid are in the village enjoying a day out, they find a young woman sleeping on the street. It turns out she escaped a refugee camp from Franco-governed fascist Spain. Marc and Lea give shelter to the young lady, whose name is Merce. In return for food and shelter, Lea convinces Merce that she should model for Marc, and Merce agrees. To tell you more of the plot would ruin your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: first, this movie, shot in brilliant black and white, is visual eye-candy from start to finish. It feels like every scene is framed for maximum visual effect. Second, while the movie has its moments, there is very little dramatic tension and hence little reason to care for any of these characters. At one point deep into the movie, Marc shows a small sketch made by Rembrandt to Merce, and starts pointing out a bunch of details ("observe the tenderness of the scene!"), creating a magical moment. I wish there were more moments like this. Third, given the subject matter of the movie, it shouldn't come as a surprise that there is quite a bit of "artistic nudity". In particular the first 45 min. of the movie features tons of nudity, but it should be stressed that it never feels exploitive or vulgar. Fourth, how Jean Rochefort must've salivated when he was offered this role! Rochefort, now in his early 80s if you can believe it, brings the role of the aging sculptor with grace and authority. Aida Folch as the model also delivers. Last but not least, two thumbs down for the improbable (and unnecessary) last scene (no worries, I'm not going to spoil).
The movie opened unannounced and without any pre-release buzz or advertising at my local art house theatre here in Cincinnati in late August. I figured this would not be playing very long, and hence went to see it right away. The screening I saw this at was indeed not very well attended. This movie reminds me of that other recent French movie "Renoir" (starring Michel Bouquet). It is equally slow in its pace (which is not a bad thing) but, while the visuals are outstanding, "The Artist and The Model" lacks in emotional pull. Nevertheless, if you like foreign movies and in particularly liked "Renoir", then this movie is still worth checking out, be it in the theatre or on DVD/Blue-ray.