The Artist And The Model (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byKatherine McLaughlin13/09/2013

Three out of Five Stars
Running Time: 104 mins

Good looking but unconvincing rumination on the creative process of a great artist, The Artist and the Model is set against the backdrop of World War II in occupied France.

What’s it all about?
Eighty year old artist Marc Cros has been disillusioned by two world wars and hasn’t sculpted for many years. When Marc’s wife meets young Spanish woman Merce, who has fled from Franco’s army, she offers her bed and board on the condition she will sit for her husband as a nude model. A relationship between the two blossoms with Marc finding the passion to create his masterpiece and Merce overcoming her tragic past.

The Good
The Artist and the Model’s beautifully composed black and white images grace the screen and reveal tinges of honesty and humour. Aida Folch as Merce injects some much needed life into this slow moving piece with her laughter, pranks and shuffling boredom at having to sit at length in one spot. Largely set in and around the artist’s studio in the French Pyrenees there’s much to admire including the technical skill involved in creating such serene and piercing visuals.

Marc has detached himself from the real world, sick of the conflict, whereas Merce is coming to terms with suffering due to her time in a concentration camp. Her healing process and education in art come hand in hand allowing for a poignant meeting between artist and model as they teach one another in a discussion over a Rembrandt sketch of a child taking its first steps. Both gain perspective in this rare tender moment.

The Bad
If you started rolling your eyes at the synopsis, keep rolling them as The Artist and the Model goes exactly where expected but leads to nothing as deep and meaningful as intended; instead it keeps the viewer at an odd distance. Fernando Trueba and screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere’s tale of an artist in his twilight years inspired by youth courts all the clichés expected.

Fixation on the female form is lensed through many different perspectives, from the innocent young scamps trying to sneak a peek at the nude model, to the artist himself using Merce as his inspiration and indeed Marc’s wife Lea pining for the body of her youth; but only so long can be spent staring at the naked body before it starts to get tiresome. For a film exploring the intricacies of the creative process and extolling the beauty of art The Artist and the Model is actually quite painful to watch at times with its conclusion leaning towards the frustratingly flimsy.

Worth seeing?
The Artist and the Model is another lacklustre entry into the elderly male artist and young female muse genre that ponders too long and lacks the depth needed for it to be truly touching.

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Content updated: 21/03/2019 03:23

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