La Belle Noiseuse is a thrilling and unconventional drama about the responsibility of an artist to his vision and the conflicts that arise when such responsibility is perceived as a threat to others. Michel Piccoli (Le Dou... more »los) delivers one of his finest, most lived-in performances as Edouard Frenhofer, a famous painter living with his artist wife Liz (Jane Birkin) on a spacious estate in the French countryside. Frenhofer has lacked inspiration for a decade and has given up on painting. The idea behind his unfinished masterpiece, La Belle Noiseuse ("The Beautiful Troublemaker"), has been seemingly unattainable for a decade; Liz was the original model for it, and Frenhofer's exhaustion with the project has an emotional parallel to his dispassionate relationship with her. Along comes a rising artist, Nicolas (David Bursztein), who suggests that his girlfriend, Marianne (Emmanuelle Béart), a writer, could help Frenhofer jumpstart the painting's completion. From this point, most of La Belle Noiseuse becomes a remarkable, seemingly unedited and privileged look at the development of a bond between artist and muse. Béart, fiercely brilliant, spends the majority of the film nude and continually molded into sometimes-painful positions as Frenhofer struggles--sketch after sketch, paint upon paint--to find something beyond the obviousness of Marianne's body. As the two struggle to meet each other halfway, Liz and Nicolas feel marginalized and jealous, putting pressure on Frenhofer to disregard such personal concerns or give in to them. Adapted by French New Wave master Jacques Rivette from a story by Honore de Balzac, the lengthy La Belle Noiseuse is fascinated by the artistic process; it is itself a patient process of watching ideas and aesthetic courage reveal themselves in the face of extraneous aversion. --Tom Keogh« less
Only for hardcore "La Belle Noiseuse" fans (like me)
Eric Krupin | Salt Lake City, UT | 03/07/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"After receiving extraordinary acclaim for his 4-hour masterwork "La Belle Noiseuse", seminal French New Wave director Jacques Rivette edited it down to 2 hours (by jettisoning its long real-time takes of an artist at work), substituting alternate takes of certain scenes and making subtle but important changes in the scene order. The result is "Divertimento", a slightly darker and, in my opinion, substantially lesser work.If you admire "La Belle Noiseuse" as much as I do, "Divertimento" will give you a thought-provoking but not revelatory new angle on a great film. If you haven't seen "La Belle Noiseuse" yet, don't cheat yourself by watching this one first."
Wow, long long long
Tom Gee | Apex, NC | 05/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a very long film. I saw the DVD version, purchased new from Amazon, which probably was a transfer. The quality is not bad - better than a VHS tape but not equivalent to the newest DVD's. This film uses very slow pacing - I liked it a lot although it's certainly not something for the MTV generation where everything has to be done at warp speed. The camera dwells on the painting process brush stroke by brush stroke interspersed by the beautiful body of Emmanuelle Béart. The French countryside scenery, the old house of the artist and the studio are examples of beautiful photography. You have lots of time during this film to admire the old painted woodwork of the doors and mouldings - the spaciousness of the house reminds me of Rodin's old house now the Musee Rodin. The primary colors used on the interior doors and trim remind me a lot of Monets house at Giverny. This is an artists house. I loved this film for the atmosphere and the character development. I'm not sure if all films should be done this way, but the snails pace works well here. It allows you to soak up the atmosphere - after 4 hours it was over and believe it or not I was still looking for more. A film definitely not for everybody but I'm glad it was created. Watch this when you have lots of time and are not in any particular hurry to "move onto the next thing". Open a bottle of wine, find a friend to enjoy this with and luxuriate in the slow slow slow pace."
"He wanted to paint me because he loved me. He stopped paint
M. B. Alcat | Los Angeles, California | 02/25/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
""La Belle Noiseuse", directed by Jacques Rivette, is a splendid albeit admittedly extremely long film that manages to make the spectator understand the possibilities and dangers that are distinctive of art. An extremely good painter can bare the soul of his subject, but that is not always a good thing, specially if the artist's ruthless eye concentrates on the worse moral traits of his model. When is it time to stop? And can a real artist betray himself and his art and not paint what he is seeing?
That is the problem Edouard Frenhofer (Michel Piccoli) faced, when he had to choose between his art and his wife. Frenhofer, an extremely famous artist, decided to stop painting a portrait called "La Belle Noiseuse", because he knew that his model, his wife Liz (Jane Birkin), would hate the results. According to Liz, "He wanted to paint me because he loved me. He stopped painting me because he loved me".
Many years later, Frenhofer gets another chance to finish his painting, thanks to the visit of an admirer, a young painter named Nicolas (David Bursztein). Nicolas suggests that his beautiful girlfriend, Marianne (Emmanuelle Béart), could be the new nude model for "La Belle Noiseuse". Frenhofer loves the idea, as does Liz. Even Marianne, mad at first at Nicolas for his suggestion, ends up embracing the challenge. However, as days go by and Frenhofer and Marianne become immersed in a world of their own, Nicolas and Liz start to feel restless, abandoned. They know that the new painting will make a difference, and that things will never be the same between them and their loved ones. But can they do something? And will it be enough?
Of course, the answers to those questions don't really matter, and you will discover them soon enough if you watch this film. What is important, then? In my opinion, the director wants to show us the process of creation through the eyes of an artist and his model, and the hard choices that sometimes must sometimes be made in order to create a real work of art. Is it worth it? And how much of himself and others should the artist be willing to risk? Those are, from my point of view, the real questions that "La Belle Noiseuse" makes you ask yourself.
On the whole, I can say that I really liked this film, but that I don't recommend it for everybody. If you are just looking for an engaging movie that will entertaing you and make you laugh, "La Belle Noiseuse" is not for you. On the other hand, if you are in the mood for a relatively little known jewel that will amaze and disturb you, making you think, watch this dvd.
Artists and Models
Liam Wilshire | Portland, OR | 10/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After living with this film for 15 years, it seems to me that the best description of its theme comes in the words of the character Liz (Jane Birkin), who in context is speaking of the work of her husband, the painter Frenhofer. According to her, it concerns something "shameful--it's not the body that is shameful, not the nudity, but something else . . ."
That "something else" is a violation, existentially speaking, of the enigma of the painter's model. Such a violation cannot be seen without the mediation of art. In a cinematic context, it is the risk the direction takes whenever it approaches its subject frontally, and we can see Rivette's tendency to retreat to wide shots, to place events off-screen, or to circle behind his players. Is this a critique of Bresson, who insisted on calling his players "models" rather than "actors?" (It is impossible not to recall the storied psychological scars Bresson's methods allegedly left on his players. ) It is clearly not that simple, for there are close-ups in NOISEUSE that seem to be as cruel to the actors as Frenhofer is to his model.
This goes beyond Bresson in other ways: Rivette, always the reader, has patched together a thumping good story from literary sources ranging from Poe to Balzac to James, and in the process has created a true mystery thriller. That the mystery hinges on four-minute shots of a hand scratching out a drawing makes it no less thrilling. It tumbles forward toward a profoundly ironic ending worthy of the best James novels.
The initial critical take on this film was that it was the most thorough document of the artistic process ever committed to film. Well, yes and no. It seems to be about the artistic process of a painter, but I think there may be a playful game of "bait-and-switch" afoot. Watch Béart. Watch, especially, Piccoli, who is a veritable encyclopedia of the actor's art, as mesmerizing in his scudding, absent-minded movements as he is in his sudden precision, always surprising. Rivette's devotion to actors is clear in all his films: think of his sets, so resembling stages with their creaky boards, a sound "effect" in Rivette that more often than not takes the place of score.
It may be that the artist of canvas, plaster, stone, or screen may reveal something secret, even shameful, in his models. It may even be that the unscrupulous artist is a thief of the soul. But Rivette, for one, shows in LA BELLE NOISEUSE that he has given these things some serious thought. And he is always generous to his actors. The result is that the trust between artist and model demonstrated in this film amounts to a strong rebuke to the idea that film cannot show thought. It can; it comes at a price, but in the hands of a master it can be as great a gift to the players as it is to the audience."
J. MacAyeal | libertyville, illinois United States | 09/26/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the best film on art I have ever seen. It unfolds in near real-time for the characters and the viewers. Yes it is slow, deliberate, and calculated but it is far from predictable or boring. People who have never experienced the multiple levels of creating art in some form will be treated to the simulated experience of the characters in this film. It isn't exciting in the sense of action but rather like having something dawn on you. I have returned to this film several times over the last 14 years and it never ceases to amaze me. It will touch what creates inside of you. Enjoy the view."