Andy Garcia stars as the painter Modigliani, an Italian Jew, has fallen in love with Jeanne, a beautiful Catholic girl. The couple has an illegitimate child, and Jeanne's bigoted parents send the baby to a faraway convent ... more »to be raised by nuns. Modigliani is distraught and needs money to rescue and raise his child. The answer arrives in Paris' annual art competition. Prize money and a guaranteed career await the winner. Modigliani and his dearest friend and rival Picasso believe that competitions are beneath true artists like themselves, but with the welfare of his child on the line, Modigliani signs up. Picasso follows suit and soon Paris is aflutter with excitement over the outcome.« less
Elizabeth D. from FAIRPORT, NY Reviewed on 11/14/2010...
While this is a fictional account of Modigliani's life the story was well crafted and the acting top notch. The movie held my interest from start to finish. A very fine film. I give it a 4 star review..
Portrait of an Artist as a Dying Man
Robert M. Penna | Albany, NY | 12/07/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Modigliani," a 2004 offering starring Andy Garcia, is one of those historical/biographical films that so invests the viewer with a sympathy for and interest in the central character, that it is a sad disappointment to learn that most of what one sees on the screen is untrue.
True, a disclaimer in the beginning warns the viewer that this is a work of fiction, but as with so many Oliver Stone "docudramas," there are no clear indications where history ends and fiction begins. In real life, Amedeo Modigliani was a painter and a sculptor. He bounced between France and his native Italy as his ever deteriorating health dictated, the deterioration caused by a life long tubercular condition, fueled by booze, drugs and (if the film is to be believed) chain smoking. He had a very public affair with a well known bisexual writer, but later became smitten with a local Parisian girl, with whom he took up and lived out the remainder of his short life. Yes, Modigliani struggled for most of his life. Yes, he lived in the same post-WW I Paris as did Picaso. Yes, he died young, at 35. And yes, Jeanne, the love of his life, did take her own life, and that of their unborn second child, upon his death. But the Modigliani we meet in the film is not this man.
Perhaps the reason for this was screenwriter Mick Davis' need to collapse an entire life into a film lasting only 127 minutes. Perhaps Mr. Davis just used the historical highpoints as the inner structure for the story he wanted to tell. Or perhaps he just could not resist the familiar and by now trite tale of the doomed artist achieving his greatest triumph just as his wretched excesses finally overtake him.
The resulting film, in spite of the title character being masterfully played by Andy Garcia, is predictable even to those who have never heard of Modigliani or ever seen his work. Certain central characters -Jeanne's virulently anti-Semitic father, is a prime illustration- and the parts they play in the film could have easily been excluded in favor of greater exploration of the historical Modigliani. His development as an artist, by way of example, is completely ignored. The viewer, therefore, is never quite sure whether the sympathy the film builds for the title character is warranted or not. Until the end, the film begs the question of whether Modigliani was any good as an artist...or not.
These things said, the film does have much to recommend it. Beyond Garcia's performance, the decadent excess of post-WW I Europe has not been so well captured since "Cabaret." The score is both bold and enticing. The fevered scenes leading up to the film's final moments truly capture the creative frenzy that great artists experience as genius takes over from rote. And the film does succeed in making the viewer believe that he or she is actually seeing this pivotal point in Western art very much as it must have been.
Still, it is saddening to realize when the film ends and the lights come on that what one has viewed was more Hollywood than history. When Disney's "Pocahontas" was screened for a huge outdoor crowd in New York's Central Park, one reviewer wrote that she had to point out to a friend who was totally taken with the film, that the Disney version of the story was glaringly historically inaccurate. Faced with the fact that actually history was much different than what the film depicted, the friend made a choice. Referring to the film, she reportedly said, "Well, I like THIS version better." So it may be with Modigliani. It may not be accurate, but viewers may like the film much more than they would the actual facts of the man's life. "
"That's How Everyone Sees Modigliani" ~ When Art And Biogra
Brian E. Erland | Brea, CA - USA | 11/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Those involved in the making of the film `Modigliani' should be exceedingly proud of this amazingly beautiful and poignant tribute to Modigliani the artist, for truly art and biography have never been so magically blended as accomplished here. I was spellbound from the opening scene of Jeanne Hebuterne's (Elsa Zylberstein) enchanting face staring into the camera to the ending with Amedeo Modigliani (Andy Garcia) dancing around the statue of Balzac on a snowy winters night. Like a poem, it ends and you are left filled with emotion and lost in profundity. `Modigliani' is truly a masterpiece in every sense of the word.
This is a film that belongs in any serious DVD collection. Purchase the CD too, the music is magnificent. My Highest Recommendation!"
Witnessing the Bohemian Life of Paris, 1919: Artists Awry
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 10/06/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"MODIGLIANI is a difficult movie to review. It has some very strong features such as the cinematography that captures the artsy feeling of Paris 1919 and, despite excesses, manages to create some visuals of hallucinations and the wild madness of painters painting canvasses; a rather complex peak into the lives of several of the more revolutionary artists of the time; and a substantial feeling for the interchange between artist and model. The main problem with the film is a script that is banal, limited in historical validity, and concentrating on a single rather silly motif of a painters' competition.
Amedeo Modigliani (1884 - 1920) was a Sephardic Jew from Italy who moved to the mecca of Paris to create his brilliant portraits and sculptures of nudes and extended neck women and girls. His genius lay in his unifying the spiritual Eastern iconography (tribal art and Judaism) of his heritage with the Christian (read Catholic) traditions of the artists with whom he associated which resulted in his creations of the female nude from a feminist cultural perspective. What this film delivers is a rather annoying portrait of a young consumptive artist who drank and drugged himself to death at a moment in his career when renown was just beginning. The reasons for his place in art history are merely hinted all for the sake of the Hollywood biopic.
Andy Garcia plays Modigliani with a modicum of élan and a plethora of bad traits. The lovely model Jeanne Hébuterne (Elsa Zylberstein) who was the subject not only of his portraits but the mother of his illegitimate child and his live-in paramour is a bit long in the tooth on suffering, though despite the fact that Zylberstien is hampered by both a weak script and limited acting, she does have an uncanny resemblance to Jeanne. The artists with whom 'Modi' works include a strangely miscast Picasso (Omid Djalili), Chaim Soutine (Stevan Rimkus), Maurice Utrillo (Hippolyte Girardot), Diego Rivera (Dan Astileanu), Zborowski (Louis Hilyer), and the strangely non-effeminate Jean Cocteau (Peter Capaldi)! Dealer Max Jacob (Udo Kier) and Gertrude Stein (Miriam Margolyes!) are thrown in with the harlequins and 'Modi's' child spirit Dedo (Frederico Ambrosino) for atmosphere. The storyline is one that could have easily been told in the requisite time frame but MODIGLIANI taxes the viewers' attention for over two hours.
So aside from a visually exciting experience there is really very little to be learned from this liquor and opium soaked consumptive noisy melodrama that could have been about any one of the artists involved in the story. The genius of Modigliani is barely tapped. Grady Harp, October 05 "
Pay no attention to the critics
gexx | Ventura, Calif USA | 07/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you are tired of car chases, explosions, gun fights, karate kicks, helicopter stunts or too many special effects then do your brain a favor and go see a movie that actually requires acting skills. Modigliani is a nice break from the overdone Hollywood movies that either copy themselves or try and remake movies from 20 years ago. Don't be as closed minded as the critics, it just ruins the movie experience. Andy Garcia does an outstanding job playing the part of Modigliani and really throws himself and his years of experience into this role and brings his character to life. Elsa Zylberstein who plays the love is Modigliani's life, Jeanne, does equally as well in telling her characters story. Why the critics don't seem to like this movie is a mystery to me but don't let them get to you, this movie truly is a work of art."
"When I know your soul, I will paint your eyes."
Luan Gaines | Dana Point, CA USA | 12/22/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
A contemporary and antagonist of his contemporary Pablo Picasso, Amadeo Modigliani (1884-1920), an Italian Jew, makes his mark in pre-world war Paris, an avant garde painter caught up in the heady bohemian atmosphere of a turn-of-the-century city. Barely able to scrape a living together, Modigliani is a tortured soul with infinite curiosity, painting the visions in his head, certainly as groundbreaking as those of the larger-than-life Picasso. While Picasso is the darling of Paris, Amadeo's days are lived in the shadows, a man given to the excesses of drink and drugs to ease the pain of his existence. When he meets his muse in Jeanne Hebuterne (Elsa Zilberstein), the work flows from his brush, a distinctive style that rivals that of his nemesis, Picasso. Indeed, the two painters are much alike in their assurance, although Picasso is much more pragmatic, a crowd-pleaser who disdains poverty in pursuit of art.
Unfortunately, Modigliani's life is too short, his brokenhearted muse inconsolable, left with a daughter and another baby on the way, disowned by her rigid Catholic father. The loss of her lover is indeed tragic; as she says to Picasso after Amadeo's death, "At the end of your life, you will say his name, Modigliani" (In fact, it is said that this is the last word Picasso uttered). French society only belatedly applauds the talent of this iconoclastic artist, a shabby painter who dances in the snowy streets of Paris to music only he can hear, shadowed by the boy he once was. Played out in vignettes of childhood memory, the agonies of failure and the natural rebelliousness of a man who cannot fit into society's expectations, Modigliani spirals through the years carelessly, driven only to paint, to dream, to seek oblivion, to paint again.
What I find particularly striking about this film, despite the many criticisms, is Garcia's ability to capture the essence of the creative spirit, unfettered by society's dictates, in fact, unable to perform responsibly. When he fails to meet the standards of a family man, or even to make a viable living, Modigliani escapes into a haze of narcotics and alcohol, the need to disappear married to his artistic genius. What appears pitiful, a man squandering his talent, is familiar to such a man, his inner visions demanding to be brought to life. It is not surprising that Modigliani hurls towards death, helpless in the face of his own self-destruction. It is in his nature, torment built into his psyche, creative demons unleashed.
In sharp contrast, the sensitive love story between Amadeo and Jeanne Hebuterne reveals the depth of his compassion and curiosity, the gleam in the actor's eyes speaking to the profound absurdities of his life. As Modigliani informs Jeanne, "When I know your soul, I will paint your eyes." Indeed, it is her eyes that haunt in his final portrait of his muse, a woman who turns away from child and family to be with the man who has so deftly captured her soul. It is often difficult to comprehend the creative impulse that leaves artists on the edge of decency and acceptability, ever pushing boundaries in a quest to feel the breath of God. It is this arrogant, yet heartbreaking quest that Garcia portrays so brilliantly, his appreciation of Modigliani's spirit that lifts the performance- and that of the talented Elsa Zilberstein- above the script and director's deficiencies, riding on the musical score and stunning cinematography to remind us of the price of genius. Luan Gaines/ 2007. "