Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Seraphine: Grade C

Seraphine (2008)
Yolande Moreau, Ulrich Tukur; Co-writer and Director Martin Provost. (French and German, subtitled).

This biopic is based on the life of French painter Seraphine de Senlis, who flourished during the interwar period. She was a cleaning lady who started painting in her forties and was lucky enough to clean house where a famous German art critic (Tukur), was living in France before the Germans invaded. He “discovers” her work and subsequently finances her continued efforts while showing and selling her paintings in Paris.

The highlights of the movie are the costumes and sets which are rich and sumptuously detailed, especially the kitchen scenes. However, the acting is only adequate and the story is virtually nonexistent. That could have been overcome with more focus on the artwork itself, how it was made, what inspired it, what it meant in social context, what Seraphine’s motivation was, or at the very least, more pictures of the actual art. Instead, the movie wants to be about the characters of Seraphine and the art critic, but they are not very interesting people.

Maybe Seraphine de Senlis was uninteresting in real life, so then the movie should have told a story about the art world, or the effect of the war on artists, or the consequences of being transformed from a cleaning lady to an international star, or any number of other interesting stories that could be imagined. But none of that happens here.

No comments:

Post a Comment