Accolades are in order for Jacques Rivette, who has alternately provoked, puzzled, eluded and dazzled audiences with his unconventional approach to cinema. With LA BELLE NOISEUSE, Rivette has distilled the enigmatic creative process into its basic elements, from inception to completion.
Edouard Frenhofer (Michel Piccoli) is a renowned painter in the throes of artistic withdrawal. A decade earlier he laid aside his brush and, suffering from a profound creative block, has not painted since. Since then, Frenhofer has been living quietly on a country estate with his wife and former
model Liz (Jane Birkin). His last project, left unfinished, is entitled "La Belle Noiseuse."
Frenhofer is jolted out of his retirement by the arrival of Nicolas (David Bursztein), an admiring younger artist, and his lover Marianne (Emmanuelle Beart). The young couple are quickly absorbed into the artist's orbit. Frenhofer is intrigued with the beautiful young Marianne. His creative
juices begin to flow again and he decides to complete his unfinished canvas--with Marianne replacing Liz as his model. Nicolas encourages Marianne to become Frenhofer's model but she is reluctant. At her boyfriend's insistence, she relents and retires with Frenhofer to his studio.
Frenhofer is determined to peel off the layers of his model's personality, stripping her both physically and metaphorically to reach the core of her psyche. Marianne resists this intense relationship and a battle of wills emerges. Day after day and often into the night the two clash--their
different temperaments often at odds. But slowly, as the days pass, each becomes absorbed in the pain, the destructiveness and the beauty of the creative process.
As the relationship between painter and model develops, Nicolas becomes increasingly jealous, but it is too late. An irrevocable bond exists between Edouard and Marianne. All others are shut out. Their symbiotic relationship has fused them into a single purpose--to finish the painting. After much
labor, pain and sacrifice, a work of art is created. The completed painting now has a life of its own. It exits. And it is a masterpiece.
LA BELLE NOISEUSE may one day stand as a masterpiece too. Rivette has brought forth the ideas and compulsions of creativity, both in its passive state and in its explosion of execution. Like all great works of art, the film has a purity of line and structure as it plays out its theme.
Michel Piccoli brings his own special expertise to his role as the blocked artist. He never falters in his character as he slowly emerges from the cocoon he has retreated to for so many years. Jane Birkin provides solace and understanding as the wife and former model who has shared his triumph
and his frustrations. Emanuelle Beart (MANON OF THE SPRING) is a refreshing young actress whose talent springs forth to add just the right touch of intensity. First released in the US in 1991, LA BELLE NOISEUSE was re-released, in a shorter, re-edited version, two years later as DIVERTIMENTO. This
"second cut" dispensed with most of the real-time sequences observing the painter at work; placed more emphasis on the emotional turmoil of Edouard; and fleshed out the character of Liz via footage not included in LA BELLE NOISEUSE. (Adult situations, sexual situations, nudity.)
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: NR
- Review: Accolades are in order for Jacques Rivette, who has alternately provoked, puzzled, eluded and dazzled audiences with his unconventional approach to cinema. With LA BELLE NOISEUSE, Rivette has distilled the enigmatic creative process into its basic elements… (more)