Friday, April 28, 2017

Cézanne et Moi

From The New York Times:
The film, an intimate, searching portrait of the turbulent friendship between the two geniuses directed by Danièle Thompson (“Avenue Montaigne”), completely avoids the tone of pious reverence typically adopted in stories about famous artists and writers. Instead it focuses on the insecurity, competitiveness and complicated love lives of these two ambitious men of opposite temperament. Anyone who has spent much time in artistic and literary circles will recognize that this is how it is even today.

“Cézanne et Moi” begins in 1888 in Médan, northwest of Paris, when Zola, then in his late 30s, was a world-famous author and the reputation of the late-blooming Cézanne was gathering steam. It then immediately flashes back to 1852, when they were rambunctious schoolboys, with Cézanne the daredevil who took Zola the follower under his wing. The movie restlessly jumps around in time, cramming almost more information than you can take in. And it is so eager not to come off as a lecture in art history the film presumes a high level of knowledge of French culture and history — more than most American viewers might possess.

Mr. Gallienne, who dominates the film, gives an electrifying portrait of Cézanne as a scruffy, driven wild man who even as his career seems stalled, declares, “I’ll never stop painting; I’ll die painting.” Charismatic but scary, flashing a furious, wide-eyed glare that could turn people to stone, Cézanne is a foul-mouthed misogynistic boor and selfish voluptuary who shocked polite society with his profanity and who in his later years was obsessed with his declining virility. (Read more.)

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