“Four stars! Miraculous!”—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
“Exceptional! The long French tradition of thoughtful, intelligent films of quality for adults is alive and well here, and that is reason to rejoice.”—Los Angeles Times
One of the best-reviewed films of the year—and one of the finest films about the life of an artist in recent memory—finally arrives in Columbus. A sleeper hit in France, Séraphine swept the 2009 Césars (the French Oscars) with seven awards including Best Picture and Best Actress. Yolande Moreau, who plays the title role in an unforgettable performance, also was just named Best Actress by the National Society of Film Critics and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.
The film tells the true story of Séraphine Louis aka Séraphine de Senlis, a simple and profoundly devout housekeeper who in 1905 at age 41 began painting brilliantly colorful canvases. Entirely self-taught, she attributed her sudden vocation as an artist to the instigation of her guardian angel. Her work was “discovered” in 1912 by Wilhelm Uhde (Ulrich Tukur), a German art critic and collector (one of the first collectors of Picasso and also a champion of the self-taught painter Henri Rousseau), while she worked for him as a maid in his lodgings in Senlis outside Paris. The two lost contact during World War I but reconnected in 1927, and Uhde became her patron.
Séraphine became one of the best know self-taught artists of the her time, as Uhde presented her work with other “naïve” painters—sometimes called the Sacred Heart Painters—in acclaimed shows in Paris, elsewhere in Europe, and at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Director Martin Provost builds his story around the relationship between the avant-garde art dealer and the visionary cleaning lady, forging a testament to the mysteries of creativity and the resilience of one woman’s spirit. (125 mins., 35mm)
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