Rochefort in very fine form
The Artist and the Model
(No Cert, IFI, 104 minutes)
Director: Fernando Trueba. Stars: Jean Rochefort, Aida Folch, Claudia Cardinale, Gotz Otto. HHHHI
Fernando Trueba's absorbing drama is loosely based on a true story and is something of a visual treat. It's 1943 in Nazi-occupied southwest France, and veteran actor Jean Rochefort is Marc Cros, a celebrated sculptor who watches helplessly as his muse deserts him. He hasn't worked in a couple of years till his wife (Claudia Cardinale) spots a wild-looking Catalonian girl hanging around the local town.
Mercé (Aida Folch) is a free spirit who hardly seems aware of her own spectacular beauty, and though he doesn't admit it, the old sculptor is instantly captivated. Initially he treats her about as warmly as a piece of marble, but as Cros attempts to capture the indefinable spark of life that fizzes through her, their relationship develops in unexpected ways.
Trueba's film is beautifully shot in black and white, cinematographer Daniel Vilar handles his light wonderfully well, and the scenes between Rochefort and Folch are funny and touching.