The vibrant and exhilarating portrait of Picasso has us believing
within the shortest span of time that we are indeed watching
Picasso and not the actor Anthony Hopkins. The exuberance of the
child-man in his passionate relationships with various women as
well as his spontaneous, often whimsical, sometimes cruel manner
of dealing with friends and acquaintances are displayed with such
directness and frankness that it makes him an once an endearing
and unnerving creature. He is unpredictable, but he is exciting.
Perhaps that is one of the characteristics that made him
attractive to so many women. They range from the young painter
Francoise (Natascha McElhone), central woman of this film, to the
housewife-mother Marie-Therese (Susannah Harker), to his actual
wife Olga (Jane Lapotaire), a Russian dancer who has gone mad, to
another painter named Dora (Julianne Moore), who suffered,
through him, a nervous breakdown. His life is littered with the
victims of love. And not a few children. Francoise is warned
early against this man by her mother, but pays no heed. He
becomes her lover, teacher, and companion. Ten years later, she
realizes that she must leave him, and, in so doing, manages to
maintain her life intact.
James Ivory and Ismail Merchant add another sensitively rendered
work from a screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala to their already
impressive list of films. Among the notable cast list are Peter
Eyre, Joss Ackland, Joan Plowright, Diane Venora, Joseph Maher,
and Bob Peck. Superb points for Director of Photography Tony
Pierce-Roberts and Production Designer Luciana Arrighi, although
the entire crew deserves praise.
I strongly suggest this film, especially if you have an avid
interest in either artists or biographies, or both.
© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett