The Grand Prix winner at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival, Le Belle Noiseuse (aka The Beautiful Troublemaker) is Jacques Rivette‘s intimately epic exploration of the convergence between artistry and eroticism. Edouard Frenhofer (French cinema giant Michel Piccoli) is a reclusive painter living in the French countryside with his wife (cultural icon Jane Birkin). Their lives are radically upended with the arrival of a younger artist (David Bursztein, Mesrine Part 2: Public Enemy #1) and his girlfriend (Emmanuel Béart, Manon of the Spring, Mission: Impossible), who becomes the muse that awakens Edouard’s fading passions. Rivette creates a layered character study, while also offering an immersive meditation on the creative process.
Rivette (1928-2016) was a key member of the New Wave of the late 1950s and ’60s – the group of film critics for the influential magazine Cahiers du Cinéma who put their revolutionary theories to the test as they became filmmakers themselves and changed the face of modern movies. Standing somewhat apart from Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Alain Resnais, Claude Chabrol, Eric Rohmer and other pioneers of the movement, Rivette created films marked by improvisation, unusual length and loose narrative that give the impression of events simply unfolding before the camera.
His works – among them, Celine and Julie Go Boating, Paris Belongs to Us, L’Amour fou and Joan the Maiden – are often deemed intellectually demanding, but Rivette fan Roger Ebert said, “There isn’t the slightest difficulty in Le Belle Noiseuse, and I would not want it any shorter.” Ebert called it “the best film I have ever seen about the physical creation of art, and about the painful bond between an artist and his muse.” “Emmanuel Béart gives a daring, proud performance,” said The Washington Post’s Hal Hinson of the frequently nude César Award winner. Scott Tobias of The A.V. Club wrote, “Rarely has a film dealt so intimately with the complex relationship between artist and subject, which here gets knotted up in mutual desire and vulnerability, intense jealousy, and a degree of exploitation.”
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