The Bridge of San Luis Ray put audiences and critics into comas, now comes Modigliani to molest them back to consciousness; in style and tone, the two films couldn’t be any more incompatible, yet they’re identically insufferable. If one scarcely had a point of view, the other simply adopts the mentality of the hoary artist biopic: In turn-of-the-century Montparnasse, the mad-hot Jewish Italian Amedeo Modigliani (Andy Garcia)—truly one of the most underappreciated artists of his time—hobnobs with crazy friends and neighbors like Maurice Utrillo (Hippolyte Girardot) and Pablo Picasso (Omid Djalili) in and around Lost Generation-era cafés. Bottles are thrown, homosexual advances are made, and a good time is had by all—except for Modigliani, who has no money and none of the cred of his contemporaries. Poor Garcia, who throws his hands in the air more times than Charlton Heston has in his entire career, gets the worst lines, including the corniest come-on I’ve ever heard (“If I’m lucky one day I will paint your eyes,” says the casanova to his future honey), but at least he doesn’t sound as if he’s drowning in his Italian accent. “I have no choisa!” yells Jeanne (Elsa Zylberstein, whose face aches and drags like the women in the artist’s paintings), madly scrubbing a toilet bowl when reminded of the horror of having to give up the child she had with Modi. What with all the maddening sepia tones, ungodly panning and slow motion, flashbacks-by-opium-high, and greased-up whores slinking all over the place, it’s as if Michael Bay had made his first foray into the art house circuit. It ain’t pretty but you have a choisa: See Modigliani or rent Derek Jarman’s Caravaggio instead.
- Mick Davis
- Mick Davis
- Andy Garcia, Elsa Zylberstein, Hippolyte Girardot, Omid Djalili, Eva Herzigova, Udo Kier, Susie Amy, Peter Capadli, Jim Carter, Beatrice Chiriac, Lance Henriksen, Louis Hilyer, Miriam Margolyes, Colin McCabe
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