55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on 13 February 2007
Excellent edition, good value DVD - the film is well over 3 hours, divided into 2 parts on 2 discs plus extras (interviews etc). Shame they couldn't add the apparently radically different shorter version of the film to the package though.
I saw La Belle Noiseuse at cinema when it came out & thought it a very clichéd view of artist and muse, the whole thing almost a parody of French art house movies. But watching the DVD has changed my opinion.
Having seen a few Rivette's recently I now understand how he sets up a deliberately theatrical situation, a conceit, out of which improvisation evolves. This film is actually about time, ageing, death - themes manifested in the pace of the film, which is slow but shifting & always intriguing. The artist & muse angle is really about how we secretly see our lives as obsessive "projects" working towards something mysterious (involving love). The central relationship is not genius artist & beautiful muse but ageing husband & wife - Jane Birkin steals the film with an incredible performance & Piccoli's performance is more complex/sympathetic that it might initially seem. With all due respect to the bravery of Beart's performance I still think her character (& boyfriend) superficial.
Basically, if you are allergic to long slow French movies avoid this, but if are an old school French film fan then this is a latter-day classic & well worth getting on DVD.
76 of 80 people found the following review helpful
on 3 September 2004
La Belle Noiseuse is a film about the possibilities as well as the ruthlessness of art. The ageing painter Frenhofer (Michel Piccoli) has been living a more or less inactive life for a long time, not because his talent has actually become stale but because of a lack of courage to achieve his potential. Ten years ago he was about to do so; using his wife Liz (Jane Birkin) as his model he began working on a portrait which he soon abandoned because of an instinctive sense of the dangers involved. The thing is that a painting, if it really is an ultimately true work of art, also presents the true character of what it depicts, and such a revelation is not for everyone to bear. I think someone once said that if we knew the true nature of our own selves we should be terrified, and that's also the claim of this film.
Now Frenhofer decides to try again with a new model, Marianne (Emmanuelle Béart), the girlfriend of a young painter, Nicolas (David Bursztein), who has come to visit the old master. Marianne is nagged by a sense of dependence on Nicolas and by a half-conscious urge to break free from the feeling of leading a shadow existence. Posing for Frenhofer seems to offer some kind of opportunity, although her irritation is increased by the fact that Nicolas has taken it upon himself to arrange this with Frenhofer without asking her. However, after a somewhat tense beginning she becomes more and more engaged in the project, especially when she realizes that Frenhofer is little more master of the situation than she herself is, and that the success of their collaboration depends on her as well as on him. Liz, on the other hand, although at first she looks favourably on this opportunity for her husband to regain his creative powers, soon begins to have misgivings about his willingness to protect his young model.
The acting is high class all way through with Michel Piccoli conveying an impression of slowly awakening artistic skills, and Emmanuelle Béart embodying the young woman who harbours great frustration without having anyone against whom she can legitimately direct it and therefore all the more haunted by it. The interplay between these to characters is very captivating, with Marianne gradually loosening up, getting involved and being quite unaware of the edge she is moving towards, and Frenhofer only dimly aware of it. Visually this film is also a gem; the summer atmosphere of Provence, the castle-like building where the Frenhofers reside, the soft, subdued light of Frenhofer's studio and the beautiful naked Marianne posing there. It's one of the best films I've seen; it fully deserves the prizes it has received.
46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2007
"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.
28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 2001
When Emmanuelle Beart was asked about this film, she stated "I bared more than my behind, I bore my soul", and it is this statement that reveals most about this fascinating film. True, Beart does spend the majority of the film naked, but it is also true that this performance reveals a depth that she had previously only hinted at in her performance in "Manon des Sources" opposite Daniel Auteuil. In this film, Beart plays the model for the old and jaded Michel Piccoli. The paintings he creates from her sittings show the angst in his personal life with his wife, played here by Jane Birkin. All in all, this should be seen to be believed.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 11 July 2004
This is a very good film running over a 2 DVD disc set. It's well acted, directed, filmed and well done everything else.
The very beautiful actress Emanuelle Beart spends a lot of the film totally nude poor thing, but remains unflustered and totally convincing in her role - as do all the characters all be it she has the hardest task to my mind.... Passions and feelings develope during the process and run high in this believable story about an artist, 2 of his lady models, a major peice of his artwork, plus a number of other characters involved in or touched by the process.
It certainly kept me engrossed but it didn't quite hit the 5 stars rating for me as I found one or two aspects of the plot a little hard to fathom. Perhaps that's down to my lack of brain power but on the other hand we are talikng about art here....
All in all very good. I'll be watching it again, and maybe again after that....
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 9 August 2008
As I often say with many French films, this is definitely not for everyone.
For me however, a luscious combination of oppressive, sun-drenched days, haunted characters, sexual politics, Rivette's ability to create unsettling atmospheres, and very fine acting made this film perfect.
I watched this on release when I was a student and while I quite liked it, I wasn't blown away. Like many such films, it has taken a second, more measured viewing for me to really appreciate it.
It is a long film and practicalities meant that this time I was unable to watch it in one sitting, but it is well worth the effort. I know nothing about painting/drawing and the processes an artist goes through to create such works, so I also feel I learned something, and really enjoyed watching the still life drawings and paintings come to life.
Emmanuelle Beart is as enviously beautiful and seductive as ever, which almost deflects from her great acting skills. However, she skillfully conveys the frustrations of a young writer (a tortured artist herself in many ways) in an uncertain relationship with a man who volunteers her services for the project, only to change his mind later, delivering a multi-layered and very committed peformance. For me personally, this relationship was the most manipulative and exploitative of all the relationships in the film, and the appearance of his sister offers further insight into what Beart's character has had to endure. And early on, her writing is dismissed as little more than a hobby or part time job compared with her boyfriend's aspirations to be a 'real' artist.
As several reviewers have already pointed out, she does seem to spend a lot of time undressed, but it is geniunely in the name of art, it is tastefully done and is not seedy in any way. If I had an older child who was interested in art, I would definitely watch this with them.
Michel Piccoli of course, is excellent, and the ever wonderful Jane Birkin is a revelation - and just as timelessly beautiful as Beart in many ways.
I'll be watching it again as soon as I have a free evening...
on 20 November 2013
because it is beautiful, but i felt it too simple taking even its production time and everything in consideration - something was missing in it... but probably its me and my own feelings... and it was worth it every penny anyway
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 December 2014
Do you enjoy watching paint dry? Or are you interested in looking at a naked beautiful French lady (Emmanuelle Beart) for 4 hours?
Michel Piccoli is an old painter (Frenhofer), once famous and productive, is now workshy, and not too productive. Jane Birkin is his wife (Liz). Beart is Marianne- the young female model. Frenhofer's creativity is awakened, and he uses Beart as a model.
The ageing French artist (Frenhofer) creates many sketches of his model. He paints for hours. There is little dialogue.
Nothing much happens. "Le Belle Noiseuse" is so slow it almost comes to a standstill.
It is clearly not to every taste, and because I wrote a review of the kevin Costner movie (The Postman - 3 hours of boredom) I decided to review this great little movie. I found it slow, meandering any yet strangely rewarding.
The interesting part of this movie is the model's discomfort; and the jealousy experienced by the painters wife.
The acting is fantastic. Michel Piccoli and Jane Birkin turn in great performances. This movie is all about the journey and not really about the end result- the work of art. You can buy the French Collection Vol.4 with Emmanuelle Beart. Its alot cheaper than this version.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I notice the word 'pretentious' bandied about in other reviews, not to mention the word 'long'. I suppose the latter depends on how much time and concentration you're prepared to devote to a film. As for the former, to my mind there is nothing remotely pretentious about this absorbing masterpiece. Far from it. Its immersion in its subject has a dedicated humility that is as refreshing as it is rare.
The films of Jacques Rivette (now in his mid-eighties) have been too little seen outside France, which is a great shame as he is a master. I shall never forget first seeing arguably his most famous film, Celine & Julie Go Boating, when I was in my twenties, and marvelling at its originality, playfulness and dreamlike atmosphere. La Belle Noiseuse is more leisurely, but no less riveting.
It is partly about the nature of looking, how we see what we see. The 'plot' is minimal. Enough to say we are mostly at the semi-retired painter Edouard Frenhofer's chateau in a provincial French town in the heat of the summer, where he lives with his partner and sometime muse Liz, whose pastime happens to be stuffing birds. That witty and imposing actor Michel Piccoli is Frenhofer and Jane Birkin is perfect as Liz. Into their serene lives come aspiring young artist Nicolas and his beautiful, mercurial girlfriend Marianne, a budding children's writer. Unbeknown to her, Nicolas arranges for Marianne to sit for Frenhofer, which at first enrages Marianne - "You sold my ass!" - but she is up early the next day and leaves for the chateau.
Much of the rest of this tremendous film is set in Frenhofer`s capacious studio, in which the painter tries to paint a canvas - entitled 'La Belle Noiseuse' - he began years ago but abandoned (we gradually find out why as the film progresses). Marianne proves an initially recalcitrant sitter, but loosens up the more she allows herself to become 'involved' in the process. Their relationship - a professional one with the personal seeping in - forms the heart of the film: the film we are watching and the ostensibly private artsistic process we are privy to by 'the magic of cinema'!
The scene, an hour into the film, when the two are finally alone and the painter begins to rearrange his studio in readiness to make his preliminary sketches, is one of the most fascinating moments in all cinema. A bold claim, yes, but what we are shown is something seldom seen: someone simply and dispassionately preparing his workplace. It's a key moment.
Then, while Marianne waits to be herself 'arranged', he opens a big old sketch book and starts to scratch a pen across its pages...
It is a long but mesmerising sequence, almost silent, few words are spoken - until the painter tells his sitter "There is a robe upstairs". Marianne, off camera, undresses and returns in only an outsize robe, ready to pose for this man.
The moment when Emmanuelle Beart/Marianne removes the robe is heartstopping, for Frenhofer and for us. Are we watching - and are we watching! - an actress doing 'a nude scene' or a model posing for an artist? Both, naturally. Beart/Marianne spends most of the remaining hours of the film naked/nude, and - much like the sitter herself - we, to some extent, get used to it. She is, unsurprisingly, very beautiful. It is frankly an erotic sight. And that's just it - why on earth shouldn't it be an erotic sight, for us the audience as well as for the painter? Neither we nor he are automatons. We are, if you like, challenged both to admit and to deny the naked splendour of this ravishing, doubly naked woman. Doubly...? Yes, because it is both the actress we see and a model in a prolonged secret sitting. And the painter barely looks at her. Put another way, what we mostly see of him is his hands sketching or painting, less often his face. We imagine the occasional glance at her. What is he seeing? Therein lies a mystery - of both this film and of art.
I have mentioned how fine Jane Birkin is, and she really does prove here what an intelligent actress she can be. Michel Piccoli (who often resembles a more benign Christopher Lee, is of a similar age, and has made about the same number of films, well over 200 and counting) is tirelessly watchable in what must have been the role of a lifetime. He was always a droll actor (his Italian descent?) and we are given rare but precious glimpses of that sense of the absurd here.
As for Emmanuelle Beart, in her late twenties at the time, it would be all too easy to downplay her contribution, but I think her performance is exceptional. She has an elfin aspect to her that is nicely at odds with her obvious voluptuousness. But she finds the comedy in her role, the endless alert patience required of a sitter, especially one who is so unceremoniously moved into the unlikeliest of poses as if she is a piece of clay. Beart's reactions to all this are as varied as the postures she is made to adopt.
I can't recommend this film too highly. Yes, Rivette tends to make `long` films, but I am the last to complain when so many shorter films that get made every year give so much less, and are so much less generous in spirit. La Belle Noiseuse has been edited by the director in a much shorter version subtitled Divertimento, but I would go for the full course menu, red wine and all!
A revelatory, endlessly captivating, exquisite masterpiece.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 October 2009
Yes, it lasts for ages, but this is an engaging piece of cinema.
An aging artist has lost his inspiration until Emannuelle Beart shows up and inspires him to attempt to capture her 'attitude' and of course her beauty.
Le Artiste's wife, Jane Birkin, falls apart as she watches her husband make love to Ms Beart in his mind as he sketches her, again and again and again...
The film is beautifully shot in the French countryside and is not at all troublesome to watch. It is what is NOT said that makes the narrative fascinating and powerful.
There is a real tension in the atmosphere between the artist, his model and his absent wife (who is chopping up vegetables in the kitchen with consummate intensity).
If you are in the mood for some Continental drama exploring lost youth, fleeting physical beauty and the complexity of male/female relationships then La Belle Noiseuse is a quirky classic and well worth watching! JP :)