Guillaume Canet as Zola and Guillaume Gallienne as Cézanne
Photos above via Magnolia Pictures
I love this film! The cinematography is candy for the eyes. The camera pans over the tools of the artist's trade; their paints, brushes, canvases and subject matter. In the art supply store/gallery that the impressionists frequented, Julien 'Pér' Tanguy hands Cézanne paint in tubes. These portable paints revolutionized plein air painting. In the same scene Tanguy, who was also offering Cézanne's paintings for sale as barter for art supplies, shows the artist a canvas with a square hole in the center saying, "He didn't have enough money for the whole painting, so I sold him the apples." Imagine!? There are tableaus reminiscent of Impressionist paintings. I wanted to pause the film and gaze at the details.
Still Life with Compotier by Paul Cézanne, 1879
The passionate friendship between Zola and Cézanne is described through its many stages from youth to adulthood. They share their thoughts, dreams and women. Ultimately, Zola's portrayal of an artist character in one of his novels is a too thinly disguised Cézanne. Cézanne is enraged and the men have a falling out. Guilliame Gallianne as Cézanne is lovable and irascible. A perfectionist in his art, he is seen constantly cutting up and stomping on his canvases. He tells his friend Zola, "I would like to paint as you write." Guilliame Canet as Zola is internalized emotion. I think he wishes he could let himself run wild like his friend Cézanne, instead he is emotionally fulfilled through his novels. The director, Daniéle Thompson, was able to film on location in many of the sites events actually occurred. Zola's house in Médan, Aix-en-Provence and others. The film is so beautifully done.
Portrait of Ambrose Vollard by Paul Cézanne, 1899
Our date night began at a French Bistro that we hadn't tried before, Lucien, which was wonderful. A reproduction of Cézanne's Card Players hangs on the back wall. How apropos.
The Card Players by Paul Cézanne, 1890-1892
oil on canvas 25 3/4" x 32 1/4"
Metropolitan Museum Collection