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
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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‚Äôs 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 B√©art 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‚Äôs suppressed, Piccoli‚Äôs¬†determination to move the woman‚Äôs body around like a prop or piece of¬†furniture gradually conceding to B√©art snatching defiance from the jaws of¬†submission. The old joke likening New Wave movies to ‚Äúwatching paint dry‚Ä̬†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‚Äôs wife learning that her real rival is that part of her¬†husband‚Äôs 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 Samoura√Į
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