Skip to main content

LA BELLE NOISEUSE

France, 1991 (MIFF 1992)

Director: Jacques Rivette

No description will ever do justice to this magnificent film, a masterpiece in any­one's terms, a work which could only be a piece of cinema and nothing else, and which is one of the most intelligent glances into the artistic process ever committed to celluloid. Rivette has always been the most unpre­dictable of the New Wave directors, quirky and experimental, temperamental and obtuse. However, La Belle Noiseuse has a purity of line and structure, conception and execution, which is the hallmark of all great art.

The film takes place on the country estate of the great painter Edouard Frenhofer, where a young couple has j'ust fallen into the artisf s orbit. Nicolas discovers that Frenhofer hasn't painted for a decade, since he abandoned work on a painting which featured his wife as his model. Nevertheless, Frenhofer becomes intrigued by the possibilities afforded by Nico-las's beautiful young lover, Marianne, and decides to pick up his brushes again. As the two of them retire to the studio, a subtle strug­gle begins to be played out. Frenhofer is deter­mined to get to know his model, to strip her before his gaze, both physically and metaphor­ically, and while his behaviour is always prop­er, a battle of wills gradually emerges. Meanwhile, Nicolas becomes increasingly jeal­ous of the intensifying relationship between the painter and his lover. As Frenhofer casts his model in humiliating poses, and as she slowly starts to assert her will, Rivette forces us to confront the pain, beauty, wilfulness and destructiveness of the artistic process with a rare and astounding insight.

La Belle Noiseuse is the culmination of over 30 years of filmmaking for Rivette, resulting in a disquieting and wise piece of work, full of constant surprises. • Piers Handling, Festival of Festivals, Montreal

See also...

HURLEVENT

Based on Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights Jacques Rivette sets a drama laced with hatred, love, revenge and depravity. Although Catherine is in love with Roch, a foundling brought up by adoptive ... More »

STORY OF MARIE AND JULIEN, THE

The Story of Marie and Julien (L' Histoire de Marie et Julien) France'In many of Jacques Rivette's sublime films, enigmas come wrapped in mysteries before eventually disclosing their secrets; The ... More »

PARIS BELONGS TO US

The writer, Charles Peguy, once reflected that Paris belongs to those who spend the summer there preparing for the winter season. In the heat of August, and in an empty Paris, Rivette documents the ... More »

NUN, THE

“Influenced by the films of Mizoguchi, Bresson, Preminger and Cocteau, The Nun qualifies as cinematic manna.” - Cinémathèque Ontario ... Jacques Rivette's magnum opus was initially banned ... More »

CÉLINE AND JULIE GO BOATING

This long film from Jacques Rivette spins a fantasy deriving from Alice in Wonderland, and from a minor tale by Henry James. Julie, a librarian, is sitting in a park in Montmartre, reading a book of ... More »

SECRET DEFENSE

Secret Defence is a powerful and original French crime thriller about a brother and sister caught up in layers of mystery which emerges from the supposedly accidental death of their father five years ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director