starring Andy Garcia, Elsa Zylberstein, Omid Djalili, Hippolyte Girardot, Udo Kier, Peter Capaldi, Louis Hilyer, Stevan Rimkus, Myriam Margolyes and Eva Herzigova
written and directed by Mick Davis
Set in post-World War I Paris, this is a story about the artist Amedeo Modigilani and his artistic competition with Pablo Picasso. At the start there is a disclaimer that the story is fiction and does not involve known, real events. I wonder, then, why they use the names and personifications of famous artists, and the milieu of post-war Paris? It was an environment teeming with literary talent as well as artistic. Parisat the time was also the temporary residence of Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, Somerset Maugham, James Joyce and others in that group.
Once again, the costumes and sets are fantastic and make for an incredible visual film. Remember that it is just a movie and as such the director’s idea of what a time and place looked like (or, ought to look like for the purpose of telling his story). But I got a feeling of authenticity, akin to what I got from Girl With A Pearl Earring, and Good Night, and Good Luck. Having said that, though, the recreation of 1920 Pariswas drab and drabber. Dark and wet and kind of grotty - an early post-war dilapidated, worn out grottiness. The artists are poverty-stricken, substance-abusing, tenement living itinerants filled with all the ethical and moral corruptions of our species, more than they are the beautiful people with a deep commitment to a philosophy of color and an esthetic vision encompassing all humanity that I imagine great artists to be. Or rather, these traits only come out in certain (rare) times of artistic fury, and do not represent the everyday artist in his mundane life. His mundane life is filled with eating, drinking, going to the toilet, sometimes fornicating, getting drunk a lot, weaseling out of paying his bills, bathing infrequently, and ...
The story of Amedeo Modigilani’s relationship with women, his life of poverty and living with/dying of tuberculosis, plus his acquaintance/competition with other artists - notably Pablo Picasso, played by Amid Djalili - and where/how he finds inspiration from the horrible, mundane reality of everyday life is fascinating. This is a well played story that probably doesn’t need much fictionalization. I think it could have been a much better film than it was, but as it was it was okay. That is all.