The Artist And The Model
Well-cast wartime drama deals with meaty concerns at an overly leisurely pace
This pensive wartime drama about an ageing sculptor regaining artistic inspiration in the twilight of his life is the very definition of ‘beautifully crafted’. Its sumptuous black and white photography, subtle performances and minimal soundtrack invite hushed contemplation. But its story feels more like a sketch than a fully developed piece.
Jean Rochefort is perfectly cast as Cros, a withdrawn sculptor living an uninspired life in rural southern France, a comfortable distance from the raging conflict. Cros’ devoted wife Léa (Claudia Cardinale) discovers young Spanish refugee Mercé (Aida Folch) in their village, and she begins modelling in return for a place to live. After a rocky start, the old artist and young model form a connection.
The story has meaty concerns – the artist's quest for inspiration, the place of art in a world at war – but its leisurely pace too often feels like padding. Director Fernando Trueba (Belle Époque) and veteran co-writer Jean-Claude Carrière (The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie) do create some great moments: Cros explaining the brilliance of a Rembrandt sketch to Mercé is wonderful and some lines have the authentic ring of hard-won wisdom.
Out on limited release now.