CÉZANNE ET MOI, drama, R, in French with sub­ti­tles, The Screen,

Pasatiempo - - MOVING IMAGES - Re­fusé L’Oeu­vre re­fusés.

Paul Cézanne and Émile Zola met as school­boys in Aix-en-Provence in 1852, where Cézanne’s fam­ily lived and Zola’s had moved for tem­po­rary work. Cézanne, whose fam­ily was well off, is bois­ter­ous and ex­tro­verted; Zola is thought­ful, shy, and dirt-poor. The movie has their friend­ship be­gin­ning in a school­yard fight, and re­main­ing strong through good times and bad as the two men travel very dif­fer­ent ca­reer paths. Zola strug­gles for a time, but achieves enor­mous suc­cess with his writ­ing, and grad­u­ally drifts into the os­si­fied haute bourgeoisie that he made his rep­u­ta­tion by crit­i­ciz­ing. Ac­cep­tance as a painter is painfully more elu­sive for Cézanne. He doesn’t start off with much of a ta­lent for draw­ing, and is not con­sid­ered an equal by his friends and col­leagues, in­clud­ing Manet and the Im­pres­sion­ists. He is a among the

The movie jumps around in time with the be­wil­der­ing alacrity of a vaude­ville quick-change artist, some­times iden­ti­fy­ing the moves with time stamps (Paris, 1863) on the screen. It opens with the ar­rival of Cézanne (Guil­laume Gal­li­enne) at the home out­side of Paris of his old friend Zola (Guil­laume Canet), now an es­tab­lished writer of con­sid­er­able means. The visit be­gins with an em­brace, but it soon be­comes clear that the painter has been deeply wounded by his old friend’s lat­est novel. The book is Zola’s 1886 ro­man à clef (The Mas­ter­piece), and its cen­tral char­ac­ter is an artist who is clearly, and not al­ways flat­ter­ingly, built on Cézanne. Zola protests that fic­tion is not fact, that he has drawn on many peo­ple in cre­at­ing his char­ac­ters, but the un­com­fort­able truth that writ­ers can­ni­bal­ize their friends is in­escapable. “In love, you for­give be­trayal,” Cézanne says. “In friend­ship, it is harder.”

Cézanne is a dif­fi­cult char­ac­ter, ob­ses­sive, abra­sive, and foul-mouthed in po­lite com­pany, and re­peat­edly char­ac­ter­ized by Zola and oth­ers as in­ca­pable of love. It is this weak­ness for rep­e­ti­tion that weighs down an oth­er­wise well-drawn por­trait of a fas­ci­nat­ing friend­ship. There are sev­eral scenes of Cézanne be­ing wounded by over­heard con­ver­sa­tions dis­parag­ing his tal­ents, more of him ram­pag­ing and of­fend­ing friends, ac­quain­tances, and lovers. We spend a lot of time with Cézanne as he paints, but for some rea­son, writer-di­rec­tor Danièle Thomp­son chooses only rarely to show us a glimpse of what he is putting on can­vas.

The act­ing is ex­cel­lent, the di­a­logue is good, the cin­e­matog­ra­phy is ev­ery­thing you would hope for in a pe­riod piece about artists. The por­trait of a long and com­pli­cated friend­ship be­tween two ge­niuses both haunted by ter­rors of in­ad­e­quacy is beau­ti­fully drawn. But even at a run­ning time that leaves a hand­ful of change out of two hours, the movie be­gins to drag long be­fore the end ti­tles fill us in on Cézanne’s late-bloom­ing suc­cess. — Jonathan Richards

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.