150 of 151 people found the following review helpful
slow, beautiful, wonderfully acted and a remarkable story,
This review is from: Seraphine [DVD]  (DVD)
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 the church candles - and her paintings, which are not of religious subjects but of trees, flowers and fruit, the things she sees around her, are colourful, beautifully crafted and quite original. Quite by chance a distinguished German connoisseur, collector and dealer, Wilhelm Uhde, sees one of her paintings. From there and over a long period of time her story develops, not straightforwardly (the First War intervenes, Uhde has to flee France, he assumes she has died but finds her again almost by chance) but eventually productively, so that her work is recognised and bought by collectors, but there is a cost for her - or perhaps her own peculiar nature works itself out - and her personal story does not end happily. Now her paintings are highly valued and, as Seraphine de Senlis, she is regarded as an important artist.
It is an astonishing story, very faithfully told in this often beautiful film. Much of the film is slow-paced, entirely appropriately for its subject, but it does not drag. The visual composition and cinematography are marvellous. The world of pre-War and post-War rural France is convincingly recreated. But the greatest glory of the film is the beautifully understated yet powerful performance of Yolande Moreau, who captures the curious nature of Seraphine - relgiously ecstatic, passionate about her painting, naive, occasionally unexpectedly insightful, direct and determined, very vulnerable - completely absorbingly. This is a very unusual film about a very unusual woman. All the other performances are good and fully worthy of the central one - and the film does tell a very good story, though it is in many ways a sad one. It is not difficult to see why it appealed so much to the French judges, and it is certainly a distinguished and compelling film.