In ‘The Artist and the Model,’ nudity cures artist’s block

128374_ba

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 from artist’s block 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 day, Lea spots a curvaceous young beauty bathing in a fountain. Merce (Aida Folch) is a Catalan refugee with no place else 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. 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 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 thematic sense, but is out of step with the rest of the movie’s delicate sensibility.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.