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158 of 160 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars slow, beautiful, wonderfully acted and a remarkable story
This film, which has won many French Academy awards including best picture and best actress, tells the true story of Seraphine Louis, a middle-aged cleaner and maid, who, living alone in the town of Serlis in great poverty, is driven through religious fervour to paint. She mixes pigments from natural elements - pondweed, flowers, blood from the butcher's shop, wax from...
Published on 10 Dec. 2009 by hillbank68

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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Needs a visionary
I read the favourable reviews here on Amazon. So I bought it. And of course Amazon reviews aren't always very reliable (of which this review might be one for most of you)

And actually it was pretty conventional. Like costume dramas often are. And not especially challenging either. Like bio-pics invariably also are. This has got a paint-by-numbers formulaic feel...
Published on 4 Jan. 2012 by Jan Mecir


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story, 20 Feb. 2011
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This review is from: Seraphine [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
If you're looking for a movie based on fact and from the art world this is for sure one of them! Its a wonderful composition from music to colour...watch it!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A picture of amazing beauty, 23 Jun. 2010
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This review is from: Seraphine [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
This was a true revelation. I must admit I did not know works of this painter before watching the movie. The leading lady gives a stunning performance as a Seraphine Louis, under educated, understated, almost retarded woman who has a wonderful gift in her hands to transform her visions into sometimes naive, but mostly moving and disturbing images. She hardly says a sentence in this film, but this is her face, her hands, actions, and of course the pictures which tells the story of shocking real life. Top mark to Yolande Moreau (an excellent comedian actress from Belgium) who pulled off this character.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Review, 28 Feb. 2011
By 
Mjbrassington "MICKYBEE" (UNITED KINGDOM) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Seraphine [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
I have only just viewed this film and found it very enjoyable.It is a strange story,but a moving one from true life.The quality of the film,sound,colour and acting I thought was excellent.I watched it on a 42 inch screen and have to say it was fabulous.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seraphine (DVD), 1 Sept. 2011
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This review is from: Seraphine [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
I first watched this film on television and was absolutely spellbound. I have never heard of Seraphine Louis before even though I have studied Art History. I then bought the DVD and watched it again and loved it.

The extraordinary story of Seraphine is beautifully portrayed by Yolande Moreau. This very poor maid Seraphine is self taught and she is driven to paint to express her emotions. Her paintings are incredibly beautiful and spiritual. Her life however is fraught with misfortunes. She reminds me of Vincent van Gogh in many ways. I have also bought a book and a poster.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Devotion and revelation, 19 May 2015
By 
J. L. Sievert (Nara, Japan) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Seraphine [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
The film asks interesting questions about art.

Where does it come from? How is it made? How are we able to value it?

The subject is Séraphine Louis (1864-1942), an unschooled amateur painter whose works and talent were discovered by an art expert who did not know he was looking for them. She (Séraphine) came to his attention unexpectedly. He was Wilhelm Uhde (1874-1947), a German art scholar, critic, collector and dealer who had been living and working in Paris prior to the First World War.

As the film begins Uhde has just rented rooms in the house of Madame Duphot in the small town of Senlis in the countryside north of Paris. He has come here for the quietude and isolation, having escaped the stress of living and working in the capital. He intends to write. Séraphine works part-time as a washerwoman and cook for Madame Duphot. She is paid just a few sous for her hard labour of scrubbing floors and washing sheets and clothing in the local river. We get the impression she comes from peasant stock and this is true. Though not revealed in the film, Séraphine was born on a farm and lived for a time as a shepherdess. Though she was able to read and write, her education was limited. At a young age she lost both her parents to disease and was cared for by an elder sister. In her teens she did domestic work in a convent. Some of the sisters there cared for her and became her friends. We see two of them in the film, singing together with Séraphine in a spirit of love.

As the film shows, Séraphine was deeply affected by her time in the convent. She is a devout believer in God's grace, mercy and compassion. In the local church she kneels and prays to the image of the Holy Virgin.

She talks to birds, insects, flowers and trees. She swims and bathes naked in the local stream. She sings and talks to herself. She collects nettles, branches, twigs. We see her look up at the sky, the sunlight glinting through the branches and leaves of a tree, her face joyous, radiant, beatific. We also discover that the nature that surrounds her is her. No separation, no barriers. And it is this, her immersion in the heart of creation, that becomes the wellspring of her art, an art of devotion and revelation. Pure feeling, sensation, acceptance.

She paints flowers on wooden boards. Wild and unruly, they are tangled and intense. She is too poor to buy paint, so she improvises and creates her own from scratch — from animal blood, candle wax, roots and plants and mud. She is more than a so-called naïve painter. She paints from the earth itself.

When Uhde sees this he is astonished. He has an eye for originality. We get the feeling he is weary of artifice, of derivative talent and ideas. He has come to Senlis for freshness. He finds it here in green fields, streams and blue skies. But he also finds it in Séraphine's art. It is real, honest, authentic. It shows something greater than talent. It has heart, depth, soul. Seeing this, he encourages her. But she is suspicious at first. It must be mockery. She is used to being laughed at, her background, manner, speech and appearance all sources of derision. She is poor and we know how the poor are treated – with pity, revulsion, condescension and contempt.

But Uhde is sincere. He knows and understands beauty. With the ardour of a suitor he courts her trust, winning her acceptance at last. To the extent he can, he becomes her patron. By day her coarse hands are worked raw, but at night she continues to paint, singing her creations into being by candlelight in her simple bare garret.

The beauty of it all is that only Uhde understands. He is the future and modernity. He has the critical eye. To everyone else Séraphine is just the mad washerwoman who climbs trees to sit with birds. So, along with his Braques, Dufys, Derains, Picassos and Rousseaus, he is also gaining Séraphines for his collection.

But irony and tragedy, never far afield, strike. The Kaiser declares war. Belgium is invaded. It is the summer of 1914. The peace and tranquility of Senlis and France are sundered. Wilhelm Uhde is international, a morally stateless lover of French culture, but now his passport marks him out as an enemy. He must flee for his life and does so to Switzerland. Paris, Senlis and Séraphine are abandoned.

Uhde survives the war. The good German is not destroyed. He follows his instincts and returns to what he loves — to art in France. He is in Chantilly near Senlis in 1927 with his sister Anne-Marie. It is she who sees a small notice in the paper about a town art exhibition in Senlis. Uhde hears the news with great sadness and regret. The war destroyed so much. Surely Séraphine and her art could not have survived it. But he must know. He must go. He drives to Senlis in his shiny new motorcar. The exhibition is as advertised: a show of local artists. There are several rooms, many paintings, few interested observers. Uhde saunters through them, hardly looking, largely unimpressed. Pretty landscapes, pedestrian portraits, dreary drawings, bourgeois mediocrity. But finally he comes to a room and pauses. We see his face, the lens lingering there. His eyes widen and into them come relief and joy. She is alive. Her art lives!

The canvases are huge, some as much as two meters high. The art is advanced, better than ever. Patron and painter are reunited. He puts her on a steady monthly income, paying for her art supplies and provisions. She moves house, buys new furniture and dresses, comes up in the world. But life has been hard. She is old now, aged 63.

1929 arrives. The stock market in New York crashes. The world economy is shaken. The art market collapses and Uhde's funds dwindle. Stranded again, but this time it's too much for Séraphine. Success and admiration, so close for grasping, are withdrawn. Her heart breaks, her mind is lost. She will spend her remaining years in an asylum.

The story mainly ends here but has an epilogue. Uhde cannot abandon her a second time. He helps pay for her care till the very end.

The war came and destroyed many things, but it could not kill beauty, love and respect. This tender, wondrous film reminds us why art is vital in our lives.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing, 1 Jan. 2015
By 
Peter Piper (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Seraphine [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
This gently paced, absorbing film lasts a wholly appropriate two hours, over which the story of this fascinatingly eccentric artist and her discovery unfolds. Yolande Moreau is delightful as the kind-hearted, hard-working and sensitive Seraphine, and it is no surprise that she won a Best Actress award for her part in the film. Each of the other actors provides admirable support and Martin Provost gives the viewer another entirely believable evocation of the life of a lonely and misunderstood artist.

The film is all the more fascinating for depicting the real life struggles of an artist who gains recognition later in life and whose artistic fervour is driven by her religious beliefs and her deep love of nature. The film of necessity has a sad ending as it reflects the final years of Seraphine's life.

All the DVD extras are text based and comprise: The story of Seraphine de Senlis, The History of Naïve Art, and a theatrical trailer. I can also recommend director Martin Provost's 'Violette', another biographical film about the author Violette Leduc.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful., 4 Jun. 2010
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This review is from: Seraphine [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
What a beautiful film - and what a pleasure to watch a real actress playing a real role (I am so fed up with vacuous bimbos playing uninspiring, dull characters). Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Slow but worth every minute, 22 Aug. 2011
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This review is from: Seraphine [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
I had never heard of the artist Seraphine before and stumbled upon this film by accident - and I'm glad I did. A wonderful depiction of the 'quiet desperation' of a seeming 'non-entity' - ignored by all or at least treated with contempt as a cleaning woman who 'wasn't all there' mentally. She was all there but just saw the world differently to those around her. Her obsession with painting in her unique way in a style that became know as 'naive art' cut her off from those around her. It's a marvellous exploration of how one woman's total devotion to her art eventually lead her to a total exclusion from her peers and ending up in that symbol of absolute seperation - the Asylum.
It's a sad end to her life but it's not certain that it could have ended any other way. It's a very relaxing visually pleasant film - well worth watching even if you have no interest in painting like myself. It is still a welcome film on the human condition - gifted or not.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, 12 May 2013
This review is from: Seraphine [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
Yolande Moreau gives a stunning performance in her role as Seraphine Louis She is supported by amongst others by Ulrich Tukur as Wilhelm Uhde. The film is the winner of seven French academy awards including the 2009 Cesar Award for Best Film.

Based on true events the story shows the discovery (by a German) of a new and, at the time, not yet popular, self taught artist. This happens (in France) on the eve of what is about to be the first world war.

This is a beautiful slow paced film, it is brilliantly acted, with stunning scenery and artwork.

There is very little dialogue at times but together with the unhurried pace of the film this creates, as with the work of Seraphine, a stunning piece of art.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous!, 15 Nov. 2012
By 
Emma Williams "E.Williams" (Hertfordshire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Seraphine [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
A wonderful story told simply! No excessive CGI, and plenty of understated attention to detail! A fantastic film for anyone who loves bio films, and enjoys a 'no-frills' approach to the cinema.

NOTE FOR UK AND US VIEWERS: This film is done in a very typically French style. Do not expect excessive melodramatics. It cuts to the core of Seraphine's struggles and the bare living of the people of the time. The ending (no spoiler alert required) is raw, sorrowful and beautiful; but without the 'grand finale' which seems to be expected so much from modern viewers. This film is a 'tip of the hat' to actual person, not a chance to show of the biggest blockbuster 'muscles'.
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