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BEAUTIFUL TROUBLEMAKER, THE

Director: JACQUES RIVETTE

FRANCE-SWITZERLAND • 1991 • SUBTITLED • COLOUR • 239 MIN.


Loosely based on Balzac’s novella Le chef d’oeuvre inconnu( The Unknown Masterpiece), La belle noiseuse(the title translates roughly as ‘The Beautiful Nutty Woman’) is the film that reintroduced Rivette to the wider art-house audience (helped, probably, by the fact that the beautiful Emmanuelle Beart spends most of it stark naked). A stately, sexy rumination on the actual ‘work’ of artistic creation, collaboration and their relationship to ‘real’ life, it is also the only Rivette film to be primarily about a man. Edouard Frenhofer (Michel Piccoli in a career-defining role) is an ageing painter who long ago abandoned the title painting, for which his wife (Jane Birkin) was the model. Despite initial reluctance, he is persuaded to resume work on his masterpiece, now using a young painter’s girlfriend (Beart) as the model.—Nick Roddick.

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