Séraphine


Séraphine went up a hill to paint a pail of water...

Séraphine went up a hill to paint a pail of water…

(2008) Biographical Drama (Music Box) Yolande Moreau, Ulrich Tukur, Anne Bennent, Geneviéve Mnich, Adélaide Leroux, Nico Rogner, Franҫoise Lebrun, Héléne Hardouin, Serge Lariviére, Léna Bréban, Sandrine Bodenes, Muriel Riou, Dominique Pozzetto, Josette Ménard, Xavier Pottier, Jean-Pascal Abribat, Anne Benoit. Directed by Martin Provost

 

This is a film about the French artist Séraphine Louis (Moreau), a doughty housekeeper by day who painted miraculous works of art by night. She believed herself to be instructed by angels to paint and she was indeed self-taught. Her work caught the eye of German art critic Wilhelm Uhde (Tukur) who had also discovered Rousseau; he helped bring her work into the public eye and sold some of her paintings but her delusions eventually caught up with her and she would pass away in a French asylum in 1942. The movie is mainly about the years in which most of her painting was done, and depicts little of her early years, showing instead her abject poverty and her connection to the trees and flowers.

Moreau is brilliant here; she is one of the greatest actresses to ever come out of Belgium and this is one of her best performances; the film is worth seeking out for that alone. It is also beautiful to look at as cinematographer Laurent Brunet uses Louis’ own work for inspiration, as well as capturing the bucolic village life of Senlis (where Louis lived most of her life) near Chantilly.

WHY RENT THIS: Moreau’s performance is breathtaking. The cinematography is beautiful.
WHY RENT SOMETHING ELSE: The pacing is a bit slow-moving..
FAMILY VALUES: There are some adult themes and mild profanity.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The film won seven Césars at the 2008 César Awards (the French equivalent of the Oscar) including Best Film and Best Actress for Moreau.
NOTABLE HOME VIDEO EXTRAS: There is a photo gallery of the real Séraphine Louis’ paintings.
BOX OFFICE PERFORMANCE: $9.2M on a $3.6M production budget.
SITES TO SEE: Netflix (DVD rental only), Amazon, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Begging Naked
FINAL RATING: 7.5/10

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Catching Up


Over the more than seven years that Cinema365 has been in existence there are a number of films that we have seen but not have time to properly review. The longer we have gone on, the less likely it is that we will be able to write full-length reviews of all of these movies. Starting today we will be publishing mini-reviews, often no more than one paragraph, of movies out of our backlog. The first to get this treatment is the award-winning French film Séraphine which has been sitting on our shelf since the very beginning. Hopefully you’ll enjoy these smaller but still useful reviews, which will have much of the same information that the full-length reviews have.

New Releases for the Week of October 9, 2009


Welcome to Problem Island!

Welcome to Problem Island!

COUPLES RETREAT

(Universal) Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman, Malin Akerman, Jean Reno, Faizon Love, Kristin Davis, Kristen Bell. Directed by Peter Billingsley

Four Midwestern couples descend on a couples-only retreat on an Eden-like South Pacific island. One of the couples is there to work on severe marital problems, the others to jet-ski, take spa treatments and have fun in the sun. When they get there, they discover that all of the couples must take part in the relationship building exercises or else enjoy none of the fun stuff. Suddenly, their group rate comes at a price as all of these couples discover the kind of issues that most real life relationships have to face. Given the presence of an impressive cast as well as one of the funniest trailers of the year, this may well be an autumn must-see.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Rating: PG-13 (sexual content and language)

From Mexico With Love

(Roadside Attractions) Steven Bauer, Kuno Becker, Bruce McGill, Steve Billich. A migrant field worker illegally in this country dreams of a better life. Like his father before him, Hector has skills as a boxer and yearns to become a prize fighter but that dream seems impossibly far away. Sweltering in the hot Texas sun by day, Hector dons the boxing gloves by night in makeshift rings in barns and bars, where his skills can earn him more in a few rounds than he makes in several days as a field worker.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Rating: PG-13 (for sports violence, language, brief sensuality and drug references)

Seraphine

(Music Box) Yolande Moreau, Ulrich Tukur, Anne Bennent, Genevieve Mnich. This is the true story of painter Seraphine Louis, better known by her nomme d’art Seraphine de Senlis. In a suburb of Paris in 1912, the self-taught painter’s visionary work catches the eye of her employer, German art dealer Wilhelm Uhde for whom she works as a domestic. He champions her work, leading to high-profile exhibitions in Paris and around the world. This movie won the Cesar (the French equivalent of the Oscar) for Best Picture and the statuette for Best Actress for Moreau in the title role.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Rating: Unrated