A historical drama traces the lifelong friendship between two renowned 19th century French artists - painter Paul Cézanne (Guillaume Gallienne) and writer Emile Zola (Guillaume Canet) - ...
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A historical drama traces the lifelong friendship between two renowned 19th century French artists - painter Paul Cézanne (Guillaume Gallienne) and writer Emile Zola (Guillaume Canet) - from their first meeting as schoolmates to their creative rivalry as fame and success continue to elude Cézanne. Written by
Eye-candy photography in the south of France and excellent original score can't save the movie
"Cezanne et Moi" (2016 release from France; 116 min.) brings the story of the ups and downs in the long friendship between French writer Emile Zola and the French painter Paul Cezanne. As the movie opens, we are in "Medan 1888", where Zola is awaiting the arrival of Cezanne, after not having seen each other for 2 years. We then go back in time to "Aix en Provence 1852", as we get to watch how they meet each other in 6th grade and become inseparable friends, Before we know it, we are in "Paris 1960" where the two are struggling to make it. At this point we're 15 min. into the movie, but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is the latest movie from veteran writer and (later in life also) director Danièle Thompson, who is now in her mid-seventies, if you can believe it. Here, she brings us the story that on its face could be fascinating: how 2 legends from the 19th century interacted with each other over decades. Is this a true story? I have no idea, and the movie does not open with the usual "Based on a true story" or "Inspired by true events". But that is not the problem. The problem is in the script writing, which is way heavy and wooden, resulting in us the viewers watching acting performances that simple do not convince us or get us emotionally connected or invested in any way, shape or form. When at one point Cezanne gets mad/upset at Zola, it feels fake and very much "acted". In that sense, certain stretches of the movie feel like watching a theater play, rather than a movie. On the plus side, the scenes that play out in the south of France (Aix) are pure eye candy and provide a much needed boost to the film. Also noteworthy (for my anyway) is the excellent original movie score, courtesy of French composer Éric Neveux. But bottom line is that for me this movie feels like a missed opportunity, considering the potential involving large personalities of not just Cezanne and Zola, but other contemporary eventual celebrities appearing in the movie (Auguste Renoir, Guy de Maupassant, Eduart Manet, and more).
"Cezanne et Moi" opened this past weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. The Tuesday evening screening where I saw this at was attended okay for a week night (about 10 people). Given the lack of critical acclaim or positive overall buzz, I can't see this playing in theaters very long, so is this movie sounds like it could be of interest to you, you're more likely to check it out on VOD or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray.
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