Film

Film

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MODIGLIANI

Written and directed by Mick Davis

Bauer Martinez, opens July 1, Angelika

The swooningly romantic details of the last years of Amedeo Modigliani’s life have always served to obscure the delicacy of his art. When there is material as rich as a debauched Italian drunkenly pinballing around Montparnasse with fellow paint-stained wretches Soutine and Utrillo, who is then enveloped in a forbidden love affair that ends in tragedy, there is little room left for aesthetic considerations. Mick Davis’s biopic focuses on the melodrama of those years. Sadly, instead of situating the l’amour fou in the artistic ferment of the period (1917-1920), Davis twists the period to fit the story. He concocts a feud between a porcine Picasso (Omid Djalili) and Andy Garcia’s preening pretty boy Modi that reduces the two to competitive children. The heart of the film lies in Elsa Zylberstein, who plays Modi’s beloved Jeanne and whose almond-shaped face and recessed eyes uncannily embody the deathless sylphs in Modi’s portraits. Her generous gaze is wasted here, but graces another mythologized artist in Maurice Pialat’s clear-eyed masterwork Van Gogh. R. EMMET SWEENEY

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