A very disappointing film that fails on several counts, from its dreadfully embarrassing opening scene and the hopelessly mis-cast Andy Garcia as Modigliani, to its load of old cobblers ending.
To begin with, he didn't die like that and the last words on Picassos lips were Modigliani?? Yeah right, I think not. Who ever wrote this tripe did not get a degree in Fine Art.
Whilst I have the greatest respect for Garcia as an actor, this was NOT the right part for him, it's a bit like casting Sylvester Stallone as Shakespeare's Hamlet, 'To be or what?' spoken with a heavy New York City accent. (see Robin Williams hilarious impression).
For a start Modi was young, he was only 34 when he died, he was by all accounts very handsome and he was very slim, in fact he was suffering from malnutrition when he died of T.B. Garcia did not look young and handsome or for that matter malnourished, quite the opposite , he's far too old to play a part like that. (Mind you, Garcia did co produce and co direct this film, maybe that's how he got the part).
In fairness though, we are warned that it is loosely based on Modigliani, this is somewhat of an overstatement to the point of being pure fiction. So why even bother to call the film Modigliani?
Also Picasso never ever regarded Modi as a rival, they painted in totally different styles, as those two utterly appalling paintings we are shown at the end, that Picasso and Modigliani would have turned in there graves at the sight of, proves my point. The films lumpen, leaden script apart from being inaccurate is very badly written and directed and I thought the story line was extremely immature, there was never a painting competition between Modi and Picasso, it just didn't happen. The film shows nothing of Modi's African Art influences, nothing of his painting technique, (inspired most definitely by Cezanne not Renoir, who he actually had no time for and told him so, yet another mistake this film makes), which if your going to make a film about a famous artist, you'd think detail is important, at least get some of your facts right.
There was only a brief portrayal of the extreme poverty he worked in; he was so impoverished, he used to paint on both sides of the canvas and stole railway sleepers from the new metro line for his carvings and fuel for his fire and his Caryatids were created from stone blocks removed from the roadside and construction sites late at night, the film shows none of this.
The films biggest flaw however is the lack of empathy you have with the main character Modigliani, you have little or no feeling for him, Garcia is very unconvincing. You do slightly feel for Jeanne Hebuterne, his last girlfriend, who was pregnant and had her other child taken away, this part was well acted by Elsa Zyberstein.
A very surprisingly good turn from Omid Djalili as Picasso. I thought he was very good and the filming and Camerawork direction by Emmanuel Kadosh is excellent. These are the films only plus points.
Modigliani's short life story of misunderstood genius is the stuff of legend, with all his doomed tempestuous love affairs and his excessive use of young prostitutes, he'd also had relationships with all his models for his famous nude paintings,not to mention the opium dens, hashish and absynthe abuse, he almost seemed like a Lord Byron of the art world, you'd have no need to make it up, just sticking to the facts would be enough. With all these ingredients, how could they possibly fail to make a great movie, instead this film was just an expensive wasted opportunity.