Thursday, April 02, 2009


I was highly awaiting the opportunity to watch this film because of the many honors Yolande Moreau (including winning the 2009 César for Best Actress) has been collecting since the film was screened. Moreau’s outstanding performance is amazing and remarkable, but this film is also highly beautiful to watch thanks to incredible peaceful visuals, some with truly outstanding framing, and many looking like true paintings.

This Martin Provost film is a biopic about the real life of Séraphine Louis, a neo-primitive (or naïve) French painter that today is known as Séraphine de Senlis. The story starts in 1912 when German collector Wilhem Uhde, best known for being the first Picasso buyer and Rousseau discover, arrives to Senlis and rents an apartment that comes with a 48-years-old housemaid that is none other than Séraphine. Slowly the story develops to have Uhde discovering the amazing flower paintings that Séraphine does, which local pompous inhabitants dismiss as a “housemaid” nonsense hobby. Uhde and Séraphine establish a poignant relationship that flourishes after WWI when the marchand d’art d’avant-garde succeeds selling the visionary housemaid amazing art. But Séraphine later years are not as happy as her story suggest, as the Great Depression market downturn leads her into insanity and has a bittersweet end.

Have to say that the real life story is remarkable but the way that Provost chose to tell it is more than amazing as the end-product becomes a beautiful voyage into the most marvelous and peaceful images of the French country site’s, and a compelling story that slowly –very slowly develops in the most simple, real and touching way. This is a film to sit, relax and watch for the great visuals, as if you need drama and/or you will not find it until the last minutes of the film and most come from excellent Yolande Moureau facial expressions and touching performance.

Then the film has some touching gay interest moments as after WWI Uhde comes back to France with his lover, Helmut Kolle, a talented young German expressionist painter that’s dying from TB.

The film has been collecting top honors in awards and fest, most for the truly remarkable Yolande Moreau performance, but also the film won the 2009 César for Best Film. To check most of the 10 wins and 3 nominations please browse the blog.

Definitively not a film for all audiences as has a narrative that is really slow-paced, is not developed in a dramatic way and consequently resembles so-much reality with many inconsequential life moments; but I highly recommend it to those that enjoy excellent French cinema, want to learn about not really known female painters and wish not to miss a remarkable performance by a well-known lead actress.


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