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La Belle Noiseuse (1990)

Michel Piccoli , Jane Birkin , Jacques Rivette  |  NR |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Michel Piccoli, Jane Birkin, Emmanuelle Béart, Marianne Denicourt, David Bursztein
  • Directors: Jacques Rivette
  • Writers: Jacques Rivette, Christine Laurent, Honoré de Balzac, Pascal Bonitzer
  • Producers: Martine Marignac, Maurice Tinchant
  • Format: Color, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: New Yorker Video
  • DVD Release Date: July 6, 2004
  • Run Time: 240 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001Y4LEQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,308 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "La Belle Noiseuse" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Interview with director Jacques Rivette
  • Interview with co-writers Pascal Bonitzer and Christine Laurent

Editorial Reviews

La Belle Noiseuse is a thrilling and unconventional drama about the responsibility of an artist to his vision and the conflicts that arise when such responsibility is perceived as a threat to others. Michel Piccoli (Le Doulos) delivers one of his finest, most lived-in performances as Edouard Frenhofer, a famous painter living with his artist wife Liz (Jane Birkin) on a spacious estate in the French countryside. Frenhofer has lacked inspiration for a decade and has given up on painting. The idea behind his unfinished masterpiece, La Belle Noiseuse ("The Beautiful Troublemaker"), has been seemingly unattainable for a decade; Liz was the original model for it, and Frenhofer's exhaustion with the project has an emotional parallel to his dispassionate relationship with her.

Along comes a rising artist, Nicolas (David Bursztein), who suggests that his girlfriend, Marianne (Emmanuelle Béart), a writer, could help Frenhofer jumpstart the painting's completion. From this point, most of La Belle Noiseuse becomes a remarkable, seemingly unedited and privileged look at the development of a bond between artist and muse. Béart, fiercely brilliant, spends the majority of the film nude and continually molded into sometimes-painful positions as Frenhofer struggles--sketch after sketch, paint upon paint--to find something beyond the obviousness of Marianne's body. As the two struggle to meet each other halfway, Liz and Nicolas feel marginalized and jealous, putting pressure on Frenhofer to disregard such personal concerns or give in to them. Adapted by French New Wave master Jacques Rivette from a story by Honore de Balzac, the lengthy La Belle Noiseuse is fascinated by the artistic process; it is itself a patient process of watching ideas and aesthetic courage reveal themselves in the face of extraneous aversion. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
"La Belle Noiseuse", directed by Jacques Rivette, is a splendid albeit admittedly extremely long film that manages to make the spectator understand the possibilities and dangers that are distinctive of art. An extremely good painter can bare the soul of his subject, but that is not always a good thing, specially if the artist's ruthless eye concentrates on the worse moral traits of his model. When is it time to stop? And can a real artist betray himself and his art and not paint what he is seeing?

That is the problem Edouard Frenhofer (Michel Piccoli) faced, when he had to choose between his art and his wife. Frenhofer, an extremely famous artist, decided to stop painting a portrait called "La Belle Noiseuse", because he knew that his model, his wife Liz (Jane Birkin), would hate the results. According to Liz, "He wanted to paint me because he loved me. He stopped painting me because he loved me".

Many years later, Frenhofer gets another chance to finish his painting, thanks to the visit of an admirer, a young painter named Nicolas (David Bursztein). Nicolas suggests that his beautiful girlfriend, Marianne (Emmanuelle Béart), could be the new nude model for "La Belle Noiseuse". Frenhofer loves the idea, as does Liz. Even Marianne, mad at first at Nicolas for his suggestion, ends up embracing the challenge. However, as days go by and Frenhofer and Marianne become immersed in a world of their own, Nicolas and Liz start to feel restless, abandoned. They know that the new painting will make a difference, and that things will never be the same between them and their loved ones. But can they do something? And will it be enough?

Of course, the answers to those questions don't really matter, and you will discover them soon enough if you watch this film.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, long long long May 17, 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a very long film. I saw the DVD version, purchased new from Amazon, which probably was a transfer. The quality is not bad - better than a VHS tape but not equivalent to the newest DVD's. This film uses very slow pacing - I liked it a lot although it's certainly not something for the MTV generation where everything has to be done at warp speed. The camera dwells on the painting process brush stroke by brush stroke interspersed by the beautiful body of Emmanuelle Béart. The French countryside scenery, the old house of the artist and the studio are examples of beautiful photography. You have lots of time during this film to admire the old painted woodwork of the doors and mouldings - the spaciousness of the house reminds me of Rodin's old house now the Musee Rodin. The primary colors used on the interior doors and trim remind me a lot of Monets house at Giverny. This is an artists house. I loved this film for the atmosphere and the character development. I'm not sure if all films should be done this way, but the snails pace works well here. It allows you to soak up the atmosphere - after 4 hours it was over and believe it or not I was still looking for more. A film definitely not for everybody but I'm glad it was created. Watch this when you have lots of time and are not in any particular hurry to "move onto the next thing". Open a bottle of wine, find a friend to enjoy this with and luxuriate in the slow slow slow pace.
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65 of 79 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
After receiving extraordinary acclaim for his 4-hour masterwork "La Belle Noiseuse", seminal French New Wave director Jacques Rivette edited it down to 2 hours (by jettisoning its long real-time takes of an artist at work), substituting alternate takes of certain scenes and making subtle but important changes in the scene order. The result is "Divertimento", a slightly darker and, in my opinion, substantially lesser work.
If you admire "La Belle Noiseuse" as much as I do, "Divertimento" will give you a thought-provoking but not revelatory new angle on a great film. If you haven't seen "La Belle Noiseuse" yet, don't cheat yourself by watching this one first.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Artists and Models October 20, 2006
After living with this film for 15 years, it seems to me that the best description of its theme comes in the words of the character Liz (Jane Birkin), who in context is speaking of the work of her husband, the painter Frenhofer. According to her, it concerns something "shameful--it's not the body that is shameful, not the nudity, but something else . . ."

That "something else" is a violation, existentially speaking, of the enigma of the painter's model. Such a violation cannot be seen without the mediation of art. In a cinematic context, it is the risk the direction takes whenever it approaches its subject frontally, and we can see Rivette's tendency to retreat to wide shots, to place events off-screen, or to circle behind his players. Is this a critique of Bresson, who insisted on calling his players "models" rather than "actors?" (It is impossible not to recall the storied psychological scars Bresson's methods allegedly left on his players. ) It is clearly not that simple, for there are close-ups in NOISEUSE that seem to be as cruel to the actors as Frenhofer is to his model.

This goes beyond Bresson in other ways: Rivette, always the reader, has patched together a thumping good story from literary sources ranging from Poe to Balzac to James, and in the process has created a true mystery thriller. That the mystery hinges on four-minute shots of a hand scratching out a drawing makes it no less thrilling. It tumbles forward toward a profoundly ironic ending worthy of the best James novels.

The initial critical take on this film was that it was the most thorough document of the artistic process ever committed to film. Well, yes and no. It seems to be about the artistic process of a painter, but I think there may be a playful game of "bait-and-switch" afoot.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The conflict between life and art
Since I find Emmanuelle Béart to be one of the best-looking actresses I’ve ever seen, and this film is probably best known for extended shots of her posing in the nude, I... Read more
Published 3 months ago by reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerising
a mesmerising film.
I was struck by the detail,
the long takes,
the very 'French' decor,
the pastels,
stone walls,
draping curtains,and... Read more
Published on April 30, 2012 by N. C. Theophilou
5.0 out of 5 stars A great movie
A famous old artist who wants to paint one more masterpiece, a painting he abandoned ten years before, when he felt he had to choose between his art and his love for his young... Read more
Published on October 6, 2011 by Robert Crosman
5.0 out of 5 stars Sexy, flirtatious, and slyly confrontational. Rated R or worse.
This very long film will take you, step-by-step, through the creative process of Fine Art oil-on-canvas Painting, French-style, in a very detailed, almost pedantic manner. Read more
Published on May 26, 2011 by poetweather
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't Let "240 minutes" Keep You Away!
If you haven't seen Jacques Rivette's "La Belle Noiseuse" I think it's worth a watch.

Michel Piccoli, Jane Birkin, and Emmanuelle Béart in a story about a painter... Read more
Published on August 10, 2010 by Tonn Borde
3.0 out of 5 stars Country-side France nudity
A typical example of rather over-advertised than really valuable movie telling of an exhausted aged artist deploying a girlfriend of a rising young art-star to complete works... Read more
Published on May 15, 2009 by Michael Kerjman
5.0 out of 5 stars masterpiece
easily one of the best films of the 1990's. beautifully shot and acted. emmanuelle beart giving a brilliant performance in what must be an extremely difficult role to play. Read more
Published on May 13, 2009 by Nicholas Figliola
5.0 out of 5 stars Nude is good
Recommended for all who enjoy viewing a nude artist model over
long periods of time - the argument causing this is moot.
Published on February 5, 2009 by Theodore Richards
4.0 out of 5 stars Emmanuelle Béart is the quintessence of a beautiful woman
"La Belle Noiseuse" is a lovely four-hour film about an artist and his model, and men and women. Emmanuelle Béart is the very essence of a beautiful woman. Read more
Published on August 22, 2008 by Timothy D. Naegele
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious yes - but it is a work of art
This loses a star for its sheer length, at 229 minutes its too long. As with a lot of French films I found the beginning very slow. Read more
Published on April 13, 2008 by S J Buck
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