Magazine article Screen International

The Artist and the Model

Magazine article Screen International

The Artist and the Model

Article excerpt

Dir: Fernando Trueba. Spain. 2012. 104mins

Fernando Trueba delivers an exquisitely crafted reflection on the "big three" - life, death and art - in The Artist And The Model (El Artista y la modelo), co-scripted by the director and Jean-Claude Carriere and starring the ever-compelling Jean Rochefort in one of the title roles (the artist, not the model).

The Artist And The Model is undoubtedly a highly seductive piece. Led by Jean Rochefort in a role that seems to fit him like a glove.

Shot in seductive black-and-white and set in 1943 occupied France, this still deliberation is an always-involving, if perhaps not wholly fulfilling contemplation of some of the themes which have played throughout Trueba's lengthy if uneven body of work, and can look forward to extended play on the festival circuit and select art-house exposure.

For some, the combined allure of Trueba, Rochefort, Claudia Cardinale (as the aged sculptor's wife) and Carriere will be an irresistible draw, and the film is never anything less than a pleasure to watch. Others could find The Artist's final section in particular too much of an old man's film for a modern market.

Shortlisted for Spain's Oscar entry and healthily pre-sold, The Artist And The Model follows on from Trueba's Oscar-nominated Chico And Rita, an animated collaboration with Spanish artist Javier Mariscal. Working closely again with an artist in the form of legendary screenwriter Carriere, he has delivered what feels like a personal piece. It is in part dedicated to Trueba's late brother Maximo, a renowned sculptor, and inspired by the life of French Catalan artist Aristide Maillol, yet it strongly reflects some of Carriere's preoccupations as witnessed in last year's documentary Carriere, A 50 Metres.

For a director who has been so obsessed by music (Trueba doubles as a successful record producer in Spain), The Artist And The Model is a preternaturally quiet feature about an old sculptor roused back into creativity by a young beauty (Aida Folch). The director even stills his ambient noise to better contemplate the art on screen as this jaded artist, devoted to the nude, slowly comes back to life. It takes more than 40 minutes for the artist to talk properly to his model, yet the silence is always comfortable. …

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