Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Trueba’s The Artist and the Model
it is not exactly Casablanca, plenty of war refugees will find their way to
this French Pyrenees village. Some are
fleeing the German occupiers, but Mercè has escaped from one of Franco’s prison
camps on the other side of the border.
However, she has the perfect look for sculptor Marc Cros. His creative inspiration will flow once again as
they share a mutual respite from war and the other messy concerns of life in
Fernando Trueba’s The Artist and the
opens this Friday in New York.
her bedraggled condition, Cros’s indulgent wife Léa recognizes Mercè as her
husband classic model-type. He too comes to agree after Madame Cros cleans and
feeds the young woman. Soon they are off
to his remote mountain studio, where she will earn her keep modeling for the
man who considers Matisse a close friend and colleague. He had essentially withdrawn from life, so
any spark she might kindle will be all to the good. After all, Cros is eighty years old and
decidedly world weary. Yet, as they
while away the hours in amid the natural beauty of his rustic lodge, she
re-awakens his passions as an artist and a man.
lulling effect of their temporary oasis is so seductive, viewers are apt to
lose sight of Trueba’s wartime setting.
Occasionally, events intrude on their idyllic interlude, such as Werner,
an upper class German officer and art historian, who has been writing the
definitive book on Cros. He is an
intriguing character Götz Otto never really has adequate time to explore.
from Claudia Cardinale’s wonderfully wise and mature appearance as Léa Cros, A & M is essentially a two-hander,
featuring two enormously photogenic co-leads.
It is impossible to stifle a sigh when gazing at Jean Rochfort’s deeply
creased face and profoundly sad eyes.
Conversely, Aida Folch’s Mercè looks as if she might have stepped out of
a Renoir painting. Yet, she has a darker, more mature presence
than the coquettish Christa Théret in Gilles Bourdos’s Renoir, an obvious comparison film.
For Trueba, A
& M represents a triumph of mise-en-scène, worthy of an artist like
Cros. Indeed, Daniel Vilar’s
black-and-white cinematography is truly exquisite and every richly detailed
corner of Cros’s studio sets could be the subject of a rewarding still
life. Clearly, Trueba privileges
on-screen composition over narrative in his hothouse fable. It is definitely a slow burner, with the
emphasis on slow, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Lovely to look at, The Artist and the Model is recommended for mature viewers who
appreciate the manner Trueba intertwines the melancholy and the erotic. It opens this Friday (8/2) in New York at the
Labels: Fernando Trueba, Spanish Cinema