Nudity cures artist’s block in ‘The Artist and the Model’

Aida Folch and Jean Rochefort play muse and sculptor in "The Artist and the Model." Credit: Cohen Media Group
Aida Folch and Jean Rochefort play muse and sculptor in “The Artist and the Model.”
Credit: Cohen Media Group

A film of lovely moments and quiet reflection, director Fernando Trueba’s “The Artist and the Model” takes a tender gaze at the creative process. Avoiding the hot-blooded emotional histrionics of most movie portraits of artists, this is a gentle picture emphasizing discipline, hard work and patience.

Set in occupied France during the waning days of World War II, the film follows (fictional) sculptor Marc Cros, a world renowned pal of Matisse and Cezanne. Played by the elegantly gaunt, poker-faced Jean Rochefort, Marc has been suffering a nasty case of artist’s block ever since the war broke out, moping around his country house to the dismay of his wife, Lea (Claudia Cardinale, still sparkling at age 75.)

While buying groceries in town one afternoon, Lea spots a curvaceous young beauty bathing in a fountain. Merce (Aida Folch) is a Catalan refugee with nowhere to go, so she takes up Lea’s offer to come stay at their house — and perhaps work as a nude model for her husband. Sure enough, the brusque bombshell sparks something long dormant in the artist.

Merce’s personality might be a bit rough around the edges, but Marc is mesmerized by her body, which cinematographer Daniel Vilar regards with a reverence both appropriate and appreciated. The two are soon working together on an arduous development process, from sketches to paintings to clay models, before a sculpture can finally emerge. They’re occasionally interrupted by flocks of peeping schoolboys, who have heard wild rumors about a naked lady in the woods.

The quietest film you’ll see this year, “The Artist and the Model” has no musical score, settling instead for distant birdsong to complement the contemplation. Shooting in shimmery black and white cinemascope, Trueba keeps the frame locked down in classically composed still shots, lending the rare camera movements an impact that feels almost seismic.

Of course, there’s still a war going on, and when Merce insists on providing shelter for a wounded French Resistance fighter (Martin Gamet) it’s a treat to watch Rochefort’s crusty deadpan ever so slightly begin to crack. The actor excels at stillness like few others, which makes for a wonderful contrast in his scenes with the vivacious Cardinale.

Sadly, the film’s final moment is misjudged. Trueba and screenwriter Jean-Claude Carierre close on a symbolic gesture that makes a certain thematic sense, but is way out of step with the rest of the movie’s delicate sensibility.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Federal mediator joins Met Opera labor talks as…

Unions representing the orchestra and chorus of the Met Opera agreed to have a federal mediator join labor talks on Thursday as a threatened lockout loomed.

Local

Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.

Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

Movies

Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is a refreshingly…

Marvel is sitting so high on a cash mountain that it's now thrown $170 million at the relatively obscure and very silly title "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Movies

Review: 'Get on Up' is a war between…

James Brown finally gets his own boring biopic with "Get on Up," but the Godfather of Soul puts up a good fight against the usual cliches.

Movies

Review: 'Child of God' finds director James Franco…

James Franco's 11th directed feature is a noble but sloppy adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's "Child of God," about a feral mountain man (Scott Haze).

Movies

Review: Alex Gibney's Fela Kuti doc 'Finding Fela'…

Prolific documentarian Alex Gibney takes on Afrobeat god Fela Kuti in "Finding Fela," but fails to capture his unique essence.

MLB

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade…

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade deadline

College

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

Career

What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.

Style

Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.

Style

Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.

Wellbeing

Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…