The Essential Movie Library #84: La Belle Noiseuse (1991) - The Culture Files Blog - Los Angeles magazine
 
 

The Essential Movie Library #84: La Belle Noiseuse (1991)

The story of an older artist finding his lost inspiration in the girlfriend of a younger artist

Jacques Rivette wasn’t the French Nouvelle Vague’s most famous filmmaker to the general movie-going public, but may have been the most influential in the ranks of the New Wave itself. When everyone pointed to Godard and Truffaut, Godard and Truffaut pointed to Rivette, a kind of DeMille of the avant-garde, which was a contradiction in terms that was its own point. The 13-hour Out 1 (with various subtitles for various versions at various lengths) was a meditation on Balzac; and Celine and Julie Go Boating, Rivette’s most definitive movie and his most beloved among those who have seen it, is a Lewis Carroll tumble down the rabbit’s hole of a mysterious house bigger and more marvelous than the actual dimensions it occupies.

Rivette calms down in the autumnal, or maybe we mean wintry, La Belle Noiseuse, the work of an older filmmaker searching for his lost inspiration, and finding it in the story of an older artist finding his lost inspiration in the girlfriend of a younger artist. It’s apparently the mournful fate of French actor Michel Piccoli to be cast in great movies with beautiful naked women, as he is in this film with Emmanuelle Béart three decades after the splendor of Bardot in Contempt (Essential Movie Library #56). The erotic tension that builds between the two is the expression of what’s suppressed, Piccoli’s determination to move the woman’s body around like a prop or piece of furniture gradually conceding to Béart snatching defiance from the jaws of submission. The old joke likening New Wave movies to “watching paint dry” is almost literalized here; but at four hours of not much more than a painter painting and a model posing, La Belle Noiseuse casts its mesmerizing spell. Jane Birkin is the artist’s wife learning that her real rival is that part of her husband’s imagination no one else can ever reach.

The Essential Movie Library #83: Goldfinger / GoldenEye / Skyfall
The Essential Movie Library #82: The Bourne Trilogy
The Essential Movie Library #81: Zero Dark Thirty
The Essential Movie Library #80: A Place in the Sun
The Essential Movie Library #79: Boogie Nights
The Essential Movie Library #78:  Le Samouraï
The Essential Movie Library #77: The Wild Bunch
The Essential Movie Library #76: Barton Fink
The Essential Movie Library #75: The Spirit of the Beehive
The Essential Movie Library #74: Sexy Beast
The Essential Movie Library #73: Groundhog Day
The Essential Movie Library #72: Rear Window
The Essential Movie Library #71: The 400 Blows
The Essential Movie Library #70: Blue Velvet
The Essential Movie Library #69: Dr. Strangelove
The Essential Movie Library #68: The Bicycle Thieves
The Essential Movie Library #67: Pulp Fiction
The Essential Movie Library #66: Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
The Essential Movie Library #65: Caché
The Essential Movie Library #64: A Hard Day's Night
The Essential Movie Library #63: The Searchers
The Essential Movie Library #62: The Conformist
The Essential Movie Library #61: Bonnie & Clyde
The Essential Movie Library #60: Sweet Smell of Success
The Essential Movie Library #59: Melancholia
The Essential Movie Library #58: La Dolce Vita
The Essential Movie Library #57: Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
The Essential Movie Library #56: Contempt
The Essential Movie Library #55: Sunset Boulevard
The Essential Movie Library #54: Metropolis
The Essential Movie Library #53: In A Lonely Place
The Essential Movie Library #52: Talk to Her
The Essential Movie LIbrary #51: To Be or Not To Be
The Essential Movie Library #50: The Battle of Algiers
The Essential Movie Library #49: Notorious
The Essential Movie Library #48: Wings of Desire
The Essential Movie Library #47: L'Avventura
The Essential Movie Library #46: Malcolm X
The Essential Movie Library #45: In the Mood for Love / 2046
The Essential Movie Library #44: Touch of Evil
The Essential Movie Library #43: Once Upon A Time in the West
The Essential Movie Library #42: Belle de Jour
The Essential Movie Library #41: Apocalypse Now
The Essential Movie Library #40: Out of the Past
The Essential Movie Library #39: Branded to Kill
The Essential Movie Library #38: The General
The Essential Movie Library #37: Lord of the Rings
The Essential Movie Library #36: Aguirre, the Wrath of God
The Essential Movie Library #35: Raging Bull
The Essential Movie Library #34: The Rules of the Game
The Essential Movie Library #33: Chinatown 
The Essential Movie Library #32: Stalker
The Essential Movie Library #31: Weekend
The Essential Movie Library #30: Some Like It Hot 
The Essential Movie Library #29: Red River
The Essential Movie Library #28: The Passenger
The Essential Movie Library #27: Singin' in the Rain
The Essential Movie Library #26: Heat
The Essential Movie Library #25: L'Atalante
The Essential Movie Library #24: Sunrise
The Essential Movie Library #23: His Girl Friday
The Essential Movie Library #22: Black Narcissus
The Essential Movie Library #21: Blade Runner
The Essential Movie Library #20: Persona
The Essential Movie Library #19: The Shop Around the Corner
The Essential Movie Library #18: Lost Highway
The Essential Movie Library #17: Tokyo Story
The Essential Movie Library #16: 8 1/2
The Essential Movie Library #15: City Lights
The Essential Movie Library #14: Seven Samurai
The Essential Movie Library #13: Lawrence of Arabia
The Essential Movie Library #12: Citizen Kane
The Essential Movie Library #11: Jules and Jim
The Essential Movie Library #10: My Darling Clementine 
The Essential Movie Library #9: Double Indemnity 
The Essential Movie Library #8: That Obscure Object of Desire 
The Essential Movie Library #7: 2001: A Space Odyssey 
The Essential Movie Library #6: Casablanca
The Essential Movie Library #5: The Lady Eve
The Essential Movie Library #4: The Third Man 
The Essential Movie Library #3: The Passion of Joan of Arc 
The Essential Movie Library #2: Vertigo 
The Essential Movie Library #1: The Godfather Trilogy

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